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Qld aged care shame: Minister must act.

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Senator Brenda Gibbs

Labor Senator for Queensland

22 South Street, Ipswich QLD 4305




24 March 1999


Senator Brenda Gibbs is calling for immediate action from the Minister to stop aged care facilities in Queensland from becoming the shame of the nation. Senator Gibbs is responding to reports that qualified nursing staff are being fazed out of some nursing homes altogether.


“On the 14 January 1999, nurses working for the Queensland aged care provider, Churches of Christ, received a letter advising that the majority of nursing staff are to be reclassified into aged care workers at its Fairhaven Maryborough and Hervey Bay facilities. This will come into effect on the 29 March 1999,” explained Senator Gibbs.


“After the reclassification, standards of care for residents in these facilities will decline rapidly. Evidence provided to the Queensland Nurses Union has revealed that nursing duties will subsequently be undertaken by people with no knowledge, skills or training to do the work. An illiterate domestic who has worked 30 years as a cleaner will be undertaking nursing duties. A domestic with 15 years experience as a cleaner will also be undertaking nursing duties. A former receptionist/administrative officer will be undertaking nursing duties at the Hervey Bay facility. I find it particularly disturbing that the employer has not even initiated any training for these staff, who are in effect - expected to act as qualified nurses.


“Staff have also been advised that they will be required to administer medications without the proper authority. If this isn’t a frightening enough prospect, these people are not even to be supervised by the remaining registered nurses. The employer has advised that registered nurses will work only as team members, without any authority to delegate, direct or supervise the care that has always been the work of nursing staff. This is absolutely ludicrous and a potential for disaster.


“As if that’s not enough, the union has also been advised that the ongoing assessment, planning and management of care for residents will now be undertaken by non-registered nursing staff. This action is in direct contravention of the Quality of Care Amendment Principles Clause 3.8, which specifies that such duties must be undertaken by a registered nurse. These principles were established to protect residents and must be upheld if these people are to maintain any quality of life,” Senator Gibbs asserted.


For further information contact Melanie Walker on (02) 6277 3447