Aged care ‘second class’ in nursing sector
By TIFFANY GRANGE
AUSTRALIA is in the grip of a nursing shortage and no sector has more trouble attracting nurses than aged care, according to an aged care specialist.
Aged Care Specialist Gail Sweeney said it was difficult to find staff to work in her nursing home at Ginninderra Gardens.
“Aged care especially for our registered nurses is seen to be the second class industry, most when they finish their degree want to go into the acute sector because it’s more trendy and it’s a more sexy place to be,” she said.
The opposition called for more funding in to aged care nursing. Senator Gary Humphries said investment into aged nursing would make it a more valued occupation.
“It’s the poor cousin of the rest of the nursing sector very clearly and the result is that people aren’t choosing it as a career path,” Senator Humphries said.
The Federal Government’s aged care proposal accepted at the COAG meeting last week focuses on increasing bed numbers.
Ms Sweeney said it was great that the Government was looking at creating more places but providing residents with access to more skilled staff should also be a major concern.
“On the current subsidies it’s very difficult to get those skilled staff,” Ms Sweeney said. “Let alone in another five to 10 years when there’s going to be a larger demand.”
The Federal Government said it would take over home and community care programs, the only aged care services that are controlled by the States and Territories.
The chair and founder of the Aged Care Lobby Group, Jenny Booth, said it was a good idea for the Government to fund home and community care.
“More funding in this area is welcome, particularly as States may not be as speedy as they should be in paying their share,” she said. “NSW at one stage was about two years in arrears.”
Ms Booth said it was cheaper to provide help to keep people at home for as long as possible rather than to put them in an aged-care facility.
Ms Sweeney said that those needing help would rather stay at home anyway.
“A person … gets stuck in there [hospital] because there’s no spare beds to go into or no spare community programs that can support them to go back home,” Ms Sweeney said. “There’s lots of research that shows a speedy recovery in a homelike environment rather than sitting in the acute sector.”