Nursing and politics

If one were to Google the topic “nursing and politics” it would bring up a range of topics for you to peruse and analyse. My reason for writing on this topic relates to an aged care conference which is being held over two days at the University of Canberra where I study. Admittedly after spending the first part of the morning session at the aged care conference I decided to head off back home again to write this blog. The aged care conference is called “The Chart Aged Care Workshop” being held on Tue 29th and Wed 30th of April 2014.

Aged Care Nurses

Aged Care Nurses negotiating for better aged care funding.

(Note: photo above taken from the NSW Nurses Association)https://www.flickr.com/photos/69006307@N07/sets/72157638339774714/

Over the years I have attended a number of conferences which have been educational and well worth the effort in attending. However this morning I just felt inspired to write my own views in relation to aged care from my own experiences. Having said that I did spend the first part of the morning session to which the main theme of the message was ‘let’s get engaged’ focusing on communication and care, attitude, respect and role responsibility, empathy and enable. The purpose the first half of the morning was to get those in attendance to look at ways of how they could communicate much more efficiently with the aged care clients in their care.

I would like to state up front that there is no perfect science in how to deal with individual clients in aged care as each individual is different from the next. Some clients are quite capable of talking clearly whilst others can be slow or have impairments that affect their communication abilities. It is vital that all members of staff have the education and awareness of how to communicate to the clients they deal with in the course of their duties.

A lot of the information that was being covered this morning was not new to me as it has been presented at various other aged care education sessions I have attended in the past, even though it was done in a new format.

When I look at aged care these days I try not to view just what happens at the ward level but also the whole process from government to the ward level. Funding in aged care is a vital part of the survival chain in my opinion to enable the necessary funding to be readily available to meet the care needs at the ward level. That’s where I am personally today on the topic of aged care as it is important to be efficient at the ward level, but with limited funding means it can have an impact on the quality of care outcomes for the clients. I can relate this back to when I was nursing full-time as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) in a high care ward at an aged care facility which for the majority of shifts we were working short staffed. This meant that because we were short staffed we couldn’t always provide efficient nursing care such as two hourly turns which often resulted in our clients getting pressure sores and in some cases ulcers.

Whilst I was sitting through the first half of the aged care conference this morning I couldn’t help think that at this specific time in Australia the current federal government is looking at how they can trim back the budget to save for a surplus in ten years’ time. Media reports on veterans getting upset about their military pension payments being axed http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-24/veterans-warn-government-against-changes-to-military-pension/5410140. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announcing a pension reform by increasing the age to 70 from 65 before anyone is eligible for the pension which will come into effect at the next federal election in 2016 if it passes http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-28/abbott-budget-deficit-age-pension-reform-unavoidable/5416470. Then we have the federal health minister Peter Dutton trying to introduce a $6 (dollar) co-payment for Medicare which will have an impact on the limited pension that pensioners receive http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-23/peter-dutton-fuels-speculation-of-medicare-co-payment/5406482. Yet on the other side of the equation we have wealthy young mothers who would be eligible for up to $75 (thousand) maternity leave scheme if approved in the senate endorsed by Tony Abbott http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/tony-abbott-unveils-controversial-maternity-leave-scheme/story-fni0cx12-1226699076504.

One would have to draw the conclusion that perhaps funding in aged care will be on the decline from now on the way things seem to be heading with the state of the federal budget. All of this political media environment and policy directions regardless of who is in government does eventually have an impact on how well aged care is funded in Australia. At the end of the day it’s the nurses, doctors, allied health professionals and auxiliary staff that have to deliver the best quality care towards the clients no matter how much funding is available. I often wonder if this ingrained level of care that health professionals and auxiliary staff display is taken for granted by those funding aged care. Are those who decide how much funding aged care receives still have the same compassionate views for the aged care client as the staff does? How far up the hierarchy chain of command does the respect for the aged care client cease? These are a couple of important questions to ponder as they were covered to some degree this morning in the aged care conference I attended.

The future of aged care in Australia needs to be constantly monitored and funded especially during the baby boomer period which is now upon us. If funding is kept at a minimum it will mean that infrastructure and training will be impaired to deal with the increase of aged care clients in the future. The other point one should consider is that people are living longer these days which is part of the reason behind extending the retirement age from 65 years to 70. That being considered it also means an increase in health costs to meet the future aging requirements which I tend to think more funding in aged care is a required necessity by those in government rather than decreasing it. Another important aspect increasing funding aged care is to be mindful of the statistics applicable to Australians living with dementia. Current reports indicate by Alzheimer’s Australia is that Australia will have at least 400,000 (thousand) people within less than ten years from now suffering from dementia which will have an impact on the aged care system http://www.fightdementia.org.au/understanding-dementia/statistics.aspx.

At the end of the day these elderly people are our family members or relatives and from that I hope funding is maintained to ensure quality of care.

Pete

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