A new report that was released by participants of a NSW Aged Care Roundtable has uncovered a number of systematic failures including a lack of staff are increasing the likelihood of poor care outcomes for aged care residents.

Calls for mandated staff ratios have grown deafening over the last 12-months and the fact that this report found that over half of residential aged care staff had worked in facilities that only had one registered nurse for every 50 residents will do nothing but fuel the public’s sentiments.

This report points to a lack of general practitioners and registered nurses were key factors for aged care residents being transferred to hospital, as well as a delay in discharge. 

A post regarding the report that was published on the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) website illustrated the issues that aged care staff are facing.

“A survey of our aged care members found 95% had transferred a resident to hospital in the past year for anything from a urinary tract infection, dehydration or poor nutrition, to pain relief,” said NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes.

“Alarmingly, 78% of those same aged care members believed those hospital transfers were avoidable.

“Improved staffing in residential aged care is paramount, with 74% of our members stating hospital transfers could have been prevented if more nursing staff were rostered on, while 49% said a lack of GP availability was a contributing factor.

“It’s clear that poor staffing in residential aged care facilities are placing a significant burden on nearby public hospitals.

“The situation not only leaves aged care residents vulnerable to injury, it also shifts the cost of their care onto an already stretched public hospital system.

“Enhancing shift-by-shift nursing staff and skills mix inside residential aged care facilities, as well as GP availability, would help towards alleviating these issues.”

Other areas that were highlighted as reasons for residents being transferred to hospitals included falls, palliative care needs, behavioral management, catheterisation and pain management.

As well as medication errors and deficiencies in wound care.

Sadly, the report also found that residents and their representatives had ‘low confidence’ in the ability of nursing homes to provide care when a resident’s health deteriorated.

The report provided eight recommendations to reduce the number of avoidable hospitalisations, including the additional specialist nurses, improved medical management, clinical care benchmarking, data collection and improved cultural competency training.

The report has been submitted to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, but whether or not we will actually see mandated staff ratios in aged care remains to be seen.

The saga continues. 

 

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