The Green party strongly supports the Hastings Coroner’s call for an overhaul of the aged care sector, and his call for an urgent review of staffing levels in aged care facilities.
“However we do not support his call for CCTV cameras in rest homes to help manage dementia patients and identify aggressive behaviour,” Green Party Aged Care spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.
“Better staffing levels, not CCTV cameras, are the key to improving the level of care in aged care facilities. Electronic surveillance can never substitute for quality care giving.
“Rest homes are not prisons,” she said. “We need healthcare for our sick and elderly, not policing.”
“Dementia patients require round the clock care and it is utterly unacceptable to suggest that surveillance by CCTV could replace that.”
Ms Kedgley said inadequate staffing levels were common throughout the sector, not just in dementia units.
There are currently no mandatory minimum staffing levels in the aged care sector – only guidelines which rest homes are expected to meet.
“These guidelines stipulate that a facility with 30 residents requires only one caregiver on duty and one on call – which means less than one hour of direct care in every 24 for every patient.
“You cannot provide quality care in aged care facilities with only one caregiver on duty for thirty patients, and this is one of the underlying problems in the whole sector,” Ms Kedgley said.
Ms Kedgley said that while she was pleased that the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, was promising more funding in the upcoming budget, concrete steps were needed to be taken to ensure higher staff to patient ratios.
“Transparency in the aged care sector is also essential. Aged care facilities need to publically report on staff to patient ratios, adverse events, and other indicators of the health of their patients.”