Glennis: Letter from an 80 year old retired nurse about aged care

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Eighty year old Glennis, a retired registered nurse and nursing home resident, has written to her MP, to the NSW Health Minister and the Premier, about keeping RNs in aged care 24/7. A Bill to protect the position of registered nurses in nursing homes passed the Upper House of NSW Parliament last Thursday 4 May. The Bill will come before the Lower House this Thursday 11 May.

Here is Glennis’ letter.

Dear Ms Pavey (MP), I am an 80 year old woman living in an aged care facility in Kempsey NSW. I am writing to ask you to reconsider your government’s decision in regards to removing the requirement for registered nurses (RNs) in aged care facilities in NSW.

I am absolutely horrified that you would make such a decision for the people of NSW and for the most vulnerable, being many elderly people like me who rely on registered nurses to assist with their daily care needs.

As a former registered nurse and someone who has voted National Party all my life, I feel I need to speak out about the Liberal/National Government’s decision and rethink my support for your party.

I am an insulin-dependent diabetic with poor eyesight. I rely on registered nurses to administer insulin injections four times a day as well as administer medications, including S8 pain relief. I have recently suffered falls and rely on RNs for assessment.

Many in my facility also rely on the care from registered nurses much more. The registered nurses are constantly busy delivering care, which is often complex and requiring a high level of skill, including palliative nursing. It’s important for residents to have access to RNs 24 hours a day when it comes to end of life care. Having RNs greatly assists us to stay in our nursing home without needing to be hospitalised unnecessarily.

Whilst care assistants do a great job, only RNs have the training and skills to assess residents’ care needs and implement care in greater detail.

In my case, simple things like having an RN be able to administer nurse-initiated medications is important. For example, I was recently prescribed a puffer four times a day to assist my lungs. I needed this more regularly but the careers couldn’t allow me to have more as it was not charted PRN (when required). The RN was able to give this and have it re-charted so I could use it when I needed it.

I suffer from a partially collapsing lung. Not having this medication could have resulted in me being sent to the local hospital via ambulance. Without an RN on duty, there will be many situations where older people will be sent to hospital unnecessarily. RNs assess and implement care to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions in situations such as this.

My question is, what benefit is there for older people or the community in your decision to remove the requirement of keeping RNs in aged care 24 hours a day?

It seems the only benefit is to the proprietors of care facilities and not to the people of NSW.

I feel this is a gross injustice and one which can only work to destroy the quality of care and quality of lives for many elderly people in this state and your government’s decision will no doubt put older people’s lives at risk!

I had to sell my home quickly and take $50,000 less to secure enough funds to pay for my care and now to be faced with the potential of substandard care with the removal of RNs because of your government’s lack of responsibility or understanding in legislating something so simple, yet so important, is a disgrace!

I am seeking a meeting with you before Parliament next week and will be bringing this issue to the attention of my local newspaper and the media. I strongly urge you and your government to support the Bill in the Lower House next week just as your LNP colleagues have respectively done in the Upper House this week.

Minister, I thank you for taking the time to read my correspondence. I need to take a stand on this matter as I feel that whilst I am not in the best of health physically, as a retired RN I have a duty to speak up on such an important health and quality care matter which will impact so severely on many older people and their families in NSW.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Glennis M.

Cc Premier Berejiklian; Minister for Health Brad Hazzard

What you can do if you’re in NSW

Contact your state MP before Thursday and ask if they are going to support the Bill – or not! Explain why we need RNs 24/7 in aged care and say you want them to support this important bill. You can help prevent a dangerous model of care in our nursing homes.

Find out who your MP is here  and find their office phone number here.

Ring your MP’s office – here are some supporting facts on RNs24/7 to use in that conversation.

Read the timeline of events in the RN 24/7 campaign: Timeline of events – registered nurses in NSW nursing homes

What more you can do:

Like the Aged Care Nurses Facebook Page
Follow RN 24/7 in Aged Care on Twitter

Previously on Nurse Uncut:

2 COMMENTS

  1. Well said Glennis, I could not agree more!
    I am a Palliative Care Nurse working in the community & it horrifies me to think that RNs would not be available 24/7 to deliver the care & medications that dying residents need.
    If this occurs many residents who would have been able to remain in their facility will end up in emergency departments & may die there. That would be horrifying.

  2. Well said Glennis.
    This lady is “telling it how it is”. Without RNs in aged care, there will be many more residents being sent to hospital overnight for a review. A Registered Nurse can attend and only send those who really need hospital care. Or, have an ambulance with paramedics attend, how much would that cost? RNs know their patients and their needs and parameters.
    Three carers have to attend up to 90 residents overnight and one of those would be in a secure unit for dementia residents.
    Please do the sums and keep Registered Nurses on the overnight and every shift in Aged Care facilities.

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