World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) is a reminder that not enough is being done to stamp out elder abuse in all its forms. It can be financial, social, physical, psychological and includes mistreatment and neglect. This not only occurs in homes but in aged care facilities too.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) report from 2016 (Who will keep me safe?) found that violence has become ‘normal’ in long term care and there is a danger that ‘fear becomes an acceptable part of daily life’ in our aged care facilities.
A NSWNMA survey of NSW residential aged care facilities has found high levels of resident-to-resident and resident-to-staff violence.
92 per cent of staff have been witness to resident-to-resident abuse in their facility. 90 per cent of staff have been subject to some form of aggression from residents. And almost 76% of respondents cited inadequate staffing as a precursor for elder abuse.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said it’s important we recognise and call out the systemic mistreatment and neglect of our elderly living in residential aged care because of chronic understaffing.
“This level of mistreatment continues to occur across Australia with little recognition or response. But it is an issue that’s affecting the health, well-being and basic human rights of our elderly and needs urgent attention now,” the A/Federal Secretary of the ANMF, Annie Butler said.
“Our members continue to report dangerously low staffing levels to us, for example where there is just 1 qualified nurse to manage the care of up to 100 residents on a night shift. Or that 1 carer has to feed, bathe, dress and mobile 16 residents in 45 minutes, many of them with complex needs.
Ms Butler said the ANMF’s national aged care campaign is calling on federal politicians to legislate for a minimum number and appropriate mix of registered and enrolled nurses and carers to residents.
“Without making ratios law, providers are employing fewer and fewer nurses to care for an increasing number of residents, who aren’t getting the care they need and deserve,” she said.
“Staffing ratios work well in the public hospital system and in child care centres. And they will be just as effective if they are implemented in nursing homes. Without ratios, we’ll continue to suffer a crisis in aged care.”
Click here to sign up the campaign: Ratios for Aged Care. Make them law NOW.
Nurses and carers working in aged care are urged to report any concerns they have about possible abuse of nursing home residents or others in the community, to the Aged Care Complaints Commission (1800 550 552).
Read or download the NSWNMA report: “Who will keep me safe? Elder Abuse in Residential Aged Care”
See below some important numbers and websites if you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse:
NSW Elder Abuse helpline and resource unit: 1800 628 221
The Aged Care Complaints Commission: 1800 550 552
Recently on June 14, 2018, Elder Abuse Action Australia was launched and it is inviting individuals and organisations to apply to become part of this initiative.