Waking aged care residents in order to get them showered before the end of the night shift is a vexed issue which continues to attract attention here on Nurse Uncut, since we posted about it in April 2011.
Some of you have asked about any regulations or standards you can use when you’re worried your relatives are being woken too early for a shower or as a nurse you are being directed to get them up too early.
The Department of Health Circular No 79/77, issued in April 1979, which we don’t believe has been superseded*, is a good guide for acceptable practice. It recommends that breakfast is not to be served before 7am and residents cannot be sat out of bed more than one hour before that. If they need to be changed or bathed earlier than that, they should be put back to bed and not left out in a chair for hours. (*Please let us know if there is anything more recent.)
Sometimes residents want to wake and be showered early, or it may help to settle them, but that is their choice.
The standards for the Australian Aged Care Agency also talk about the right of a resident (or their guardian or relative, if they are not able) to make a decision about the service they receive and to exercise choice, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of other residents.
Nurses who are being told to wake up residents very early to get them showered because the nursing home doesn’t have enough staff should be questioning this practice through their nursing staff meetings and through the union branch – or use the Work Health and Safety committee to assess the risk of having too few staff to properly care for their residents.
This is their home and we all want to see the residents enjoy it.
Currently NSW is holding a Parliamentary Inquiry into Elder Abuse. We encourage aged care nurses to make a submission before Friday February 12. Read all about it and access the online submission link here.