Staff ratios must be priority

Staffing ratios per resident need to be addressed. I am an enrolled nurse in a residential facility and I have just had my job made redundant, along with another EN.

This now means only 1 EN to administer medication, treat wounds and assist health care workers, when needed, to every 30 residents.

We are an ageing-in-place centre, which means that – even when a resident’s health declines or their dementia becomes worse – they still stay in their original rooms.

Some residents enter other people’s rooms, become aggressive, hit out at other residents or staff. We are unable to provide one-to-one care in these circumstances.

At night, from 11.00pm until 7.00am, there is only 1 registered nurse and 1 health care worker to 64 residents. Staffing levels can’t be maintained on a regular basis if staff are sick. There is not enough back-up staff, either within the company or via Agency staff.

When staffing levels are low, residents’ care is compromised. They receive a wash instead of a shower. They are left longer to wait for assistance. Medications are given late. Food is adjusted and perhaps not given if time passes and it gets close to the next meal time.

I feel that, if the government stepped in and made staffing ratios more regulated – as per child care – this would assist in the beginning.

The role of a health care worker is a Certificate IIIand the pay rate is appalling, $20.26 per hour.

We have had staff leave to obtain a job serving in a petrol station on better wages. We become very close to the residents as we are with them daily. Some do not see their families for months and it is hard when you cannot give them an extra 5 minutes of your time.

We do not like these people to be alone at the end of their time but, in reality, we cannot be with them. We check as we walk pass but do not sit with them. They cry alone because we are too busy.

regional South Australia