Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt. Mike Knott BUN201217PITT3

Aged care ratios come with hidden danger: Hinkler MP

HINKLER MP Keith Pitt has urged caution against compulsory nurse-to-resident ratios in aged care homes, saying the move could result in the shutting down of some aged care facilities.

But he said he wasn't opposed to calling for more staff where it was needed.

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU) is campaigning for mandatory ratios at a federal level, claiming a lack of adequate staffing is putting the elderly at risk.

The union recently ramped up its efforts in Bundaberg, with QNMU secretary Beth Mohle in town this week to promote the cause.

Labor's Hinkler candiate Richard Pascoe and Flynn candidate Zac Beers joined Ms Mohle so sign pledges to support nurse-to-resident ratios.

But Mr Pitt has warned against a strict ratio, because he says on advice from experts including the minister, it could be detrimental to aged care facilities.

Mr Pitt said a case-by-case basis was needed and enforcing a certain number of staff wasn't the answer.

"My view is if there's a need for more boots on the ground we should get them," he said.

"I'm happy to call for them where it's necessary."

But Mr Pitt said qualified nurses shouldn't be getting tied up in tasks that other staff could carry out, such as changing clothes.

Mr Pitt said he was also concerned the great work of aged care facilities across the region was being overshadowed in the process of the campaign.

"The Labor Party should stop denigrating them," he said, adding that many people in the region were receiving exceptional service at aged care facilities across the electorate.

Mr Pitt said the government was listening and any time anyone had a complaint they could reach out to the Aged Care Complaints Commission.

"Where there are complaints the government takes action and that's exactly what's happening," he said.

Mr Pitt highlighted the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency's unannounced visit of Blue Care Aged Care Services in Bundaberg in April this year and a subsequent order for strict improvements.

It is the role of the agency to enforce stringent rules.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announced at the time that he had asked the agency for a detailed report on the facilities' progress afterwards.

Mr Pitt said Mr Pascoe and Mr Beers, as Labor candidates, would naturally side with the union.

"Labor candidates will be Labor candidates," he said.

"They'll stick with the line that's given to them."

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