This Wednesday, Labor Candidate for Summer Hill Jo Haylen, will speak at a community forum supporting the requirement for all aged care facilities in NSW to have a registered nurse on duty at all times.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association is hosting the forum at Wests Ashfield Club on Wednesday night from 6pm. (Details)

Clr Haylen will also put a motion to Marrickville Council to oppose the Baird government’s plan to remove round-the-clock care by registered nurses from nursing homes. There are almost 20 aged care facilities in Marrickville and Summer Hill areas that would be affected by the plan.

As part of its health policy, NSW Labor would legislate to extend the legal requirement that NSW aged care facilities must have a registered nurse on duty at all times.

“Labor’s plan will ensure there is always a senior nurse on duty in every NSW aged care facility. I know this issue is very important to many members of the community in Summer Hill who have family in aged-care. This plan will ensure the well-being of residents and provide peace of mind to family members with loved ones in nursing homes,” Clr Haylen said.

“This measure would also support nurses and protects aged care residents, particularly those in high care.”

Currently, the registered nurse requirement is only in place in NSW until December 2015, and NSW is the only Australian jurisdiction with this requirement.

Registered nurses oversee medications, including side effects; undertake nursing procedures like wound care and urinary catheters; provide palliative care and support and supervise (ENs) enrolled nurses and (AiNs) assistants in nursing.

The NSW Public Health Act 2010 requires all ‘nursing homes’ in NSW to have a registered nurse on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week, but, last year, changes to the Commonwealth Aged Care Act 1997 by the Abbott Government impacted on the NSW Public Health Act. This removed the requirement to have a registered nurse on duty.

However, on June 13, 2014, NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner wrote to the NSW aged care sector putting forward an interim measure until December 2015. She said she wanted to consult with nursing home operators. Labor will make the registered nurse requirement permanent.

The registered nurse requirement would also reduce the number of transfers by aged care facilities of residents to the State’s emergency departments – which are experiencing an increase in the number of older people presenting to hospital.

“NSW Labor understands the valuable role and support registered nurses provide to residents and other nurses. They ensure the high-quality of care of residents in aged care,” Ms Haylen said.

A Foley Labor Government will retain the requirement of registered nurses at all times in aged care facilities beyond December 2015.



That Marrickville Council:

1. acknowledges that all residents in nursing homes should be provided with quality care led by registered nurses;

2. notes with concern the potential risk to residents of nursing homes across Marrickville of the removal of the requirement to have a registered nurse on duty at all times;

3. supports the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association campaign RN 24/7 to ensure permanent legislation is in place requiring a registered nurse on duty at all times and the appointment of a director of nursing in all NSW nursing homes, as a minimum, and

4. writes to the NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Jullian Skinner MP and Shadow Minister for Health, Walt Secord MLC conveying this resolution.


I bring to the attention of Council the potential risk to Marrickville residents and impact on the local health system of removing the State legislative requirement to have a registered nurse on duty at all times in nursing homes in NSW.

The NSW Public Health Act 2010 requires that ‘a registered nurse is on duty in the nursing home at all times’ and defines which aged care homes are nursing homes. In addition, the legislation requires a director of nursing is appointed for all nursing homes in NSW.

These requirements are at risk due to amended wording in the Commonwealth Aged Care Act 1997, effective from 1 July 2014, which affected the definitions in the NSW Public Health Act 2010 related to registered nurse staffing and the presence of a director of nursing.

The NSW Minister for Health has enacted an interim arrangement effective until the end of 2015, while consulting with the aged care sector. It is vital for quality of care that these requirements be placed permanently into NSW legislation.

There are approximately 10 Nursing homes across Marrickville, which could be affected.

Registered nurses provide skilled, clinical care to residents of NSW nursing homes with complex, high level needs. This includes assessing and managing changes in condition, providing pain relief and palliation, minimising discomfort or distress and preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.

The removal of registered nurses would see an increase in hospital admissions, placing additional and unnecessary pressure on the local health system, particularly already stretched Emergency Departments. It would also adversely impact on the care of frail elderly residents. We know that when admitted to hospital, older people stay longer and fare worse than other groups. It is much more effective to provide care in the nursing home, with in-reach support when needed and to minimise admissions via emergency departments.

The roles of the registered nurse and director of nursing in nursing homes are vital to the health and well being of the residents in aged care across Marrickville and to the state of the NSW health system more broadly.