24/7 Registered Nursing Care in NSW Aged Care Facilities Bill Defeated
Published on the 30 May 2017
Published on the 30 May 2017
Regardless of whether or not you are an aged care registered nurse in New South Wales, you have likely heard reports that Shooters Party MP Phil Donato’s bill to legislate ‘RNs in aged care facilities 24 hours a day’ has been rejected by the NSW state parliament (Rurenga 2017).
‘It passed the Upper House last week but was not supported by the Coalition when it was introduced in the lower house on Thursday’ (Coote & Clift 2017).
This may have left you asking ‘why?’, ‘what is going to happen next?’ and ‘who voted for dough over bros?’.
Consider: without NSW aged care facilities having access to 24/7 registered nursing care, are the residents going to be left with better quality care? Or, are the healthcare organisations going to be the ones left better off, financially?
Let’s have a look at the reports surrounding this issue and try to understand how all of this has come about and what the motivations were behind denying this bill that could likely improve the care of older Australians.
The Guardian News (2017) reported that one Member for Oxley, The Nationals, The Liberals, and the NSW Government ‘voted down’ this bill. Ironically, it was highlighted that the vote ironically comes from the local member of an electorate that consists of around 40% > 60 year-olds.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s General Secretary, Brett Holmes said, ‘the government’s decision was shameful and over time would erode the level of quality care provided to some of the state’s most vulnerable aged care residents’ (2017).
The same article (Guardian News, 2017) expresses that ‘Labor had widespread support for this issue with strong lobbying from the Country Women’s Association, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, NSW Council of Social Services, NSW Australian Ageing Agenda, NSW Rural Doctors, Palliative Care NSW, Palliative Care Australia, and NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.’
(Coote & Clift 2017)
So, from looking at some of the reports surrounding this bill it is apparent that there are two distinct sides of the argument for and against 24/7 RNs in nursing homes in NSW. That is: the perspective of the organisation/employer, and that of the employees. However, when reading over statements made, it seems that both sides are portraying that they are thinking of the clients.
Reasons made for 24/7 RN care appear to be based on client safety.
Evidently, without access to 24 hour RN care, residents could face potential troubles such as: decreased quality of care; less thorough and timely assessments and interventions; and, fewer available services (because some procedures, e.g. syringe drivers, may be out of the scope of practice of aged care workers other than RNs).
However, the reasons against the bill also indicate that there is a concern that should 24/7 RN care become mandatory, clients may not have access to personal care because there is potential that nursing homes may not be able to continue operating.
As earlier outlined, this was suggested as a result of difficulty in recruiting enough RNs to cover the nursing homes 24/7, and also the obvious financial difficulties arising from paying for 24/7 RN coverage of the nursing homes.
I guess the next concerns that arise from these observations are whether costs of aged care may rise further for residents if 24/7 RN care does become mandatory.
Will there be less access to local nursing homes if the bill passes in the future? And now that the bill has not passed, will people be even more inclined to remain in their own homes for as long as possible?
I wonder if carers will feel empowered or intimidated by the outcome of the bill? And I wonder what the culture will be like in nursing homes throughout NSW, especially considering that there was suggestion, as outlined earlier in this article, that the decision not to vote in the bill was made in consultation with nursing home operators.
Are tensions now expected between executives, nurses, and clients?
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Madeline Gilkes focused the research project for her master's of healthcare leadership on health coaching for long-term weight loss in obese adults. Madeline is also a qualified weight management practitioner and Registered Nurse. Her vision is to prevent lifestyle diseases, obesogenic environments, dementia, and metabolic syndrome. She has a master of healthcare leadership, a graduate certificate in aged care, and a bachelor of nursing. Madeline works as an academic and has spent the past years in the role of clinical facilitator and clinical nurse specialist (gerontology & education). She is due to complete her Graduate Certificate in Adult and Vocational Education at CSU before November 2018.