The Australian population is ageing.
In 2017, fifteen percent of Australians were aged 65 yrs or more. That is 3.8 million people.
And this is expected to rise to twenty-two percent by 2057.
A growing number of these people will require ongoing care in an aged care facility.
But the truth is, the numbers of registered and enrolled nurses no longer meets this increasing need for quality specialised care.
Instead, the burden of care in these facilities falls on Personal Care Attendants (PCA’s).
PCA’s complete a certificate 3 in aged care which can be completed as little as 5 weeks, and here is no registration body overseeing them.
This truth remains largely hidden away inside aged care facilities in the public and private sectors. Hidden away amongst individuals who, after contributing to our society for most of their lives, find their healthcare rights largely ignored by governments.
Of permanent residents living in aged care facilities last year:
- One-third had high care requirements due to complex healthcare issues.
- 85 per cent had at least one mental or behavioural condition
- 47 per cent had depression
- 52 per cent had dementia
Between 2003 and 2016, registered and enrolled nurses as a proportion of the full-time equivalent residential aged care work force has decreased dramatically:
- Registered nurses: 21.4 per cent to 14.9 per cent.
- Enrolled nurses: 14.4 per cent to 9.3 per cent.
Sources: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Department of Health via the AMA.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) commissioned a study that recommends aged care residents should be receiving an average of 4 hours and 18 minutes of care per day. Currently they are receiving 2 hours and 50 minutes.
In order to properly meet the needs of these residents the ANMF recommends staffing be increased to one Registered Nurse per 15 residents during the day and one Registered Nurse per 30 residents during the evening and night shift.
65,000 new jobs (over the next 6 years) will need to be created to adequately meet these needs.
As of September this year (2018), there are 126,732 people waiting for an appropriate home care package, the majority of whom have high care needs.