THE residents of an aged care facility at Gloucester will be left with "second rate care" if plans to cut nursing staff hours go ahead, the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNWA) says.
Up to five full-time equivalent nursing jobs will be lost when aged care bed licences transfer from Gloucester Soldiers' Memorial Hospital over to Anglican Care's new facility later this year.
Nurses, residents and their relatives staged a protest outside the hospital's Hillcrest nursing home on Thursday.
"We just want to make the community aware of what is going to happen," Jodie Zimmerman, the secretary of Gloucester's NSWNWA branch said. "There will be a substantial shortfall in staffing, compared to what they have now."
Ms Zimmerman said at present, a registered nurse (RN) was rostered on 24 hours a day at the facility.
But this would change.
"There will be no RN on evenings or nights," she said.
"And not having that senior nursing practitioner, that has years of training and experience, puts a lot of stress on the other staff, and it leaves our aged care community with second rate care.
"With the Royal Commission going on at the moment into nursing homes, it is evident to us that the problems they are having are because of the staffing issues.
"Our understanding is that there will be 1.5 staff to 15 residents with these changes, and that is a bit scary."
Ms Zimmerman said they had received a roster from the new owners, and had worked out there would be "significant job losses".
All up, they would lose 172 nursing hours at the facility.
"We will lose 142 hours for RNs per week, which is a huge amount," she said.
"Enrolled nurses will be losing 60 hours, and Assistants in Nursing (AINs) will gain 30 hours. You need AINs - I am an AIN myself, and you have to have those workhorses - but you also need those leaders there that can make the big calls. We are not trained for that. I don't want to make those calls. We are playing with people's lives.
"AINs have their place, but not at the detriment of our patients. Our residents are part of our family. They love us, and we love them."
The NSWNMA has taken the matter to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission and is due to reappear next week.
A spokesperson from Anglican Care said Gloucester Soldiers' Memorial Hospital had been run under an "acute care public hospital model".
They said the facilities were to be closed under Hunter New England Health until Anglican Care won the tender to continue to operate aged care services in Gloucester in 2015.
"The new facility will take fewer staff to run in a contemporary way in line with aged care guidelines, than is currently the case at Gloucester hospital," they said.
Anglican Care could not confirm staffing levels until a transition agreement had been resolved, but said the quality of care would not be compromised.
"The hours that registered nurses are rostered will be dependent on collective care needs of all the residents. As these collective needs increase, so too will the hours for which registered nurses and/or other care staff are rostered."
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