Australia’s ageing population means that the pressure to care for an increasingly frail generation is mounting on aged care facilities and their workers.
The government is encouraging Australians to stay at home for as long as possible as they age, but which means that those who enter nursing homes are sicker and more frail than ever before.
A senior adviser with the Combined Pensioners Superannuants Association says that: “we have seen a decline in the number of registered nurses working in residential aged care, and we are seeing a commensurate increase in our personal care workers.”
There are no mandated staff-to-residents ratios in nursing homes, placing pressure on workers who are caring for a large number of residents. Where registered nurses are university-trained, personal care workers are usually low-paid with little training.
The recent deaths of two dementia patients while under the care of nursing homes has increased scrutiny on the industry. One patient died after falling into a fountain, and another died from dehydration, malnutrition and pneumonia. The latter patient’s husband contends that his wife died from neglect.
Both nursing homes implicated in the two deaths have retained full accreditation by the regulator. In the case of the patient who died from dehydration and malnutrition, despite a complaint by her husband and an internal investigation, the Aged Care Quality Agency gave the home a rating of 100%.
Following coronial investigations into both deaths, both homes were asked to improve their policies and procedures.
These stories are disturbing, and it highlights the need to seek specialist advice before arranging for the care of elderly relatives. Should they be in formal care or will there be a family arrangement? How will bills be paid? Is the person in charge of the care of the elderly person trustworthy? How will social security entitlements be affected?
For further advice about the law pertaining to older Australians, give Estate Battles a call today.