HARD-PRESSED: Rosaleen Nicholls protests Blue Care's staff cuts last year.
HARD-PRESSED: Rosaleen Nicholls protests Blue Care's staff cuts last year. Crystal Jones

BIG READ: Bundy nurse's attack; 'it's all about money'

"WOULD anyone like to sit in an incontinence pad with two litres of urine for 12 hours?"

It's a confronting question raised by a Bundaberg woman who has spent almost 17 years caring for our elderly.

Nurse Rosaleen Nicholls spoke frankly at a recent Bundaberg aged care forum,  and at times ovations from the audience drowned out her words.

"I started out as a housekeeper and ended up as a registered nurse, so I saw so many different aspects of aged care," she said.

"I, like the other RNs and ENs (enrolled nurses) ... have sat by beds and held hands, have medicated, have talked to, we have watched people leave, and this is our life."

Mrs Nicholls, who lost her job in Blue Care's cuts last year, said nurses were struggling to provide the basics of care because of a lack of time.

Starting at 6.30am, Mrs Nicholls said she was rushed off her feet.

"We didn't walk in and chat with our residents, we barely asked them what they'd like to wear. We showered them, we washed them, then we dashed off to the next person," she said.

"We had to deliver care so that all the people had their care delivered by lunchtime, because work it out, if someone's put in an incontinence pad at 9pm they're still sitting in the same incontinence pad at 9am - that's 12 hours.

"These are all facts that we who practice aged care know."

Mrs Nicholls says her days in nursing are now over.

"I will not renew my EN's licence because I will not go and work in an industry ... because it lacks ethics, it lacks integrity and the duty of care to the delivery of holistic care to elderly people is not there," she said.

"All that's there is money, money, money."

Ms Nicholls hit back at MP Keith Pitt's claim that a royal commission was too expensive at about $50 million as most of it went to lawyers.

Speaking at the event, Mr Pitt said he'd rather see the money spent on services .

Mrs Nicholls was incensed.

"Keith Pitt, your $50 million, I don't care about services, I don't care about buses, we are talking about elderly people who live in aged care," she said.

"They do not go home... they do not have a bucket list and travel the world.

"Fifty million dollars? We are talking about human beings!"

Carers giving out drugs

PERSONAL carers are not assisting in giving medication but are administering without proper training, according to experienced nurse Rosaleen Nicholls.

"They have no training," she said.

"They were told they would be assisting. They did not assist, they literally put tablets in a person's mouth.

"I'm sorry - that is called medicating."

Mrs Nicholls said "elderly, frail people" were being subjected to medications delivered at the wrong times and in the wrong combinations because of staff who were not trained to know better.

She said when carers picked up a packet of medications and gave them to patients, they did not question what they were doing.

"They walk in and give it to the resident," Mrs Nicholls said.

"They have no idea that they should be giving that person who has Parkinson's their medication at 7am, not 8am.

"When I worked as an EN that meant I had total duty of care. Under the legislation that I had a total duty of care to medicate people."

Mrs Nicholls claimed workers who had "no training" and "no knowledge of pharmacology" were dispensing medication in the absence of nurses.

A spokesman for Blue Care said staff who administered medicines were qualified.

"Resident safety and well-being is our number one priority and we strongly refute the claim that medications are being administered in our facilities by unqualified staff; Blue Care complies with all federal and state legislative and regulatory requirements governing the dosing and administration of medication," he said.

"In addition, Blue Care RNs have special responsibility for the administration of complex and high-risk medications."

The spokesman said personal carers assisted with low-risk medicines.

"As is standard practice across the whole Australian aged care sector, our personal carers assist with non-complex and low-risk medications, which is permitted under federal and state legislation and regulations that govern the administration of medication," he said.

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