Elderly care workers say their industry is facing serious staffing issues, which is leading to substandard care for the residents.
Through a series of interviews, ABC’s Lateline program found that workers often do not have enough time to properly feed, hydrate or take to the toilet all of their residents. The program also found that infections and bone fractures can go undiagnosed and that there are at least 10 medication mistakes a month. Staffers told ABC Lateline that lawsuits claiming neglect and abuse against care workers have left the industry short on staffing.
Because there is no mandatory minimum staff-to-patient ratio, the imbalance between residents and employees can often get well out of hand. Lateline reported that in one case, a worker was left to care for 20 or 30 patients. The imbalance means residents can be left for hours in unclean incontinence pads, risking dangerous skin and urinary tract infections, according to abc.net.au.
There are now more chronically ill and dependent elderly citizens needing complex medical care in nursing homes than ever before, Lateline reported. Unfortunately, there is also less medically qualified staff than ever before. The investigation found that around 70 percent of nursing home employees are low-paid, low-skilled workers. While many of the workers finish training courses, they are often pushed to do tasks they do not have enough knowledge to successfully complete. They can be also be asked to perform jobs beyond their limited training, such as dealing with complex wounds or catheters.