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Policy frameworks and vested interests shaping aged care nursing options

McDonald, T. A., 2012

CAN/RCNA Conference Keynote. Cairns, Queensland.


Opening statement: Nursing in the aged care environment is pivotal to sustained success of aged care businesses and the standards of care that nurses design and deploy have implications for the general public, the public health system and politicians in health and aged care portfolios. It beggars belief therefore that nursing in these arenas is poorly understood, underestimated and under-resourced by those with most to gain from promoting nursing excellence.

Objective: the aim of this keynote presentation is to focus attention on the influences around the profession that need to be marshalled to support nursing into the future. These include the general public and governments, employers and administrators, trade unions and academic and research services. As well, professional nursing organisations and employment environments need to be included as stakeholders.

Nursing is a major source of essential expertise o the aged care industry. Briefly we provide clinical interventions in complex care and specialities, management 9operations and middle management), quality and safety skills monitoring and response, human resource and work safety management, regulatory compliance risk management and monitoring, income generation for employing organisation in terms of funding assessments and budget management, and corporate governance. Nursing in this sector cannot be easily stereotyped into clinical speciality or management roles. Organisations that fail to properly acknowledge the full aged care nursing role deserve to lose them.

Daily pressures on nurses in aged care occur relentlessly. Nurses are required to demonstrate an evidence base for clinical and management decisions yet little time is available for research or reflection. There is role encroachment and substitution by other worker categories due to short sighted management. Nurses deliver complex clinical nursing, general management of teams and the environment as well as maintaining the regulatory compliance status of the organisation. All of this happens amid resource restraints and trivialisation of the professional role and status of nurses by uninformed administrators and boards.

Nurses need to take action to engage with health economics issues and contribute directly to decision-making processes within the organisation; vote according to political platforms on issues related to nursing, ageing and health; insist on adequate resourcing by gathering evidence and feeding that back into decision making processes; relate resourcing to service options and any limitations to public safety issues; and foster the entry of other nurses into an aged care nursing career. Above all, challenge all who seek to diminish the status or reputation of aged care nurses and nursing.

CITATION McDonald T. (2012) Policy frameworks and vested interests shaping aged care nursing in the Forum "Delivering appropriate nursing care in a policy minefield" Royal College of Nursing National Conference 'Corporate and Clinical governance' 26-28 May, Cairns Queensland.


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