Shock move at height of aged-care crisis


NURSES are facing the sack by Queensland's biggest aged care provider in the wake of the Royal Commission's damning attack on a "cruel and shameful'' system.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday promised more money for aged care before Christmas, after the Royal Commission revealed 16,000 elderly people had died waiting for funding for in-home nursing care.

And Blue Care, run by the Uniting Church, has told the Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union it plans a "potential reduction'' in the number of registered nurses, and a "reduction in hours being worked'' by nursing assistants at its Toowoomba nursing home.

"If internal redeployment is not possible, notice and severance entitlements will be provided,'' Blue Care general manager Grace Chan wrote to the union.

Union acting secretary Sandra Eales said yesterday Blue Care had been secretly cutting staff at its Queensland nursing homes.

She said five nurses and four assistants in nursing would be cut from the 114-bed nursing home in Toowoomba.

"Cuts of this nature will result in an extreme reduction in care for residents at that facility and we have no doubt lives will be put at risk if these cuts go ahead,'' she said.

A Blue Care spokesman said it was "inappropriate to speculate'' on staff cuts at Toowoomba.

"Our number one priority is the wellbeing of our residents and employees, which is why we regularly review and adjust our rosters and staffing mix in line with the specific occupancy and acuity level of the individual aged care home, both of which regularly fluctuate,'' he said.

News of the proposed sackings comes a day after Uniting Care issued a statement welcoming the royal commission's damning report into aged care, which warned that many nursing homes are understaffed.

Blue Care has flagged potential staff cuts.
Blue Care has flagged potential staff cuts.

"For care workers, inadequate staffing levels mean that they are overworked, rushed and generally under pressure,'' the report says.

"There is no guarantee that a nurse will be on duty at all times.''

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles yesterday demanded the federal government set quotas for the numbers of nurses in aged care homes.

And Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone warned that more than half of aged care residents live in nursing homes with "unacceptable staffing levels''.

"Registered nurses must be available on site 24/7 to ensure appropriate care, including the safe administration of medicines, is provided for elderly and frail patients,'' he said.

The Prime Minister yesterday promised extra funding for aged care before Christmas, on top of the $21.7 billion to be spent this financial year.

The Royal Commission revealed that 16,000 elderly Australians had died waiting in the queue for in-home care last financial year.

"Many people die waiting,'' the report says.

"We find it particularly disturbing that only 91,847 people were receiving home care packages as at 30 June 2018, while more than 120,000 were waiting for packages.''

A home care "package'' is funding of up to $50,000 per year that frail elderly people can spend to pay for the nursing care or domestic help they need to stay in their own homes.

Unlicensed driver ‘unaware’ of suspension period

Premium Content Unlicensed driver ‘unaware’ of suspension period

The woman said she had not updated her address in 12 months.

Mum in court for stealing baby supplies

Premium Content Mum in court for stealing baby supplies

Amy Chantelle Heath stole from a local business.

Man drank beer, whiskey before driving at Calliope

Premium Content Man drank beer, whiskey before driving at Calliope

The man finished up work drinks before choosing to drive.