AGED CARE: Registered Nurse said more emphasis needs to be put on care rather than paperwork.
AGED CARE: Registered Nurse said more emphasis needs to be put on care rather than paperwork.

‘Dangerous’: nurse says process prioritised over patients

CARING for the elderly should be the priority of the aged care sector but paperwork is being prioritised over residents, according to registered nurse Gordon Kerkham.

The 77-year-old has worked as a nurse for 60 years.

He said throughout his career he's watched the focus of nursing go from the caring for the patient to "checking the right boxes" on the charts.

"One of the most dangerous things we did was put too much reliance on aged care accreditation," Mr Kerkham said.

He says the days where the matron, the nursing boss, was out on the floor ensuring all practices were followed are long gone and it's hurting the industry.

"The matron used to visit everyone in a 900-bed hospital, you compare that with modern directors of nursing, even if you are in their office their eyes are on the computer screen," he said.

The lack of staff was the biggest issue, according to Mr Kerkham.

He works casually at a Rockhampton nursing home and when he's on shift he's the only registered nurse for 50 patients, which has him giving out more than 350 pills a morning.

"You start at seven and if you get off duty at four you're lucky and if you get lunch you're even luckier," he said.

He is in the process of writing a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety about his concerns.

"I really think they (the Royal Commission) need to ask better questions," he said.

He claims the sector is so bad he would never send his wife to an aged care home and he has no plans to go himself.

He said the government should take care of the elderly people who helped "make the country".

"Nursing is about caring for people," he said.

If management were more present on the floor many incidents could be avoided, according to Mr Kerkham.

He said abuse couldn't be hidden behind closed doors.

The Royal Commission Aged Care Quality and Safety was established in October 8, 2018 - after travelling to hearings across the nation, commissioners will provide a final report by November 2020.