A BENDIGO resident hopes to keep aged care residents and staff safer by putting pressure on the government to institute set staffing ratios in privately run facilities.
Bendigo Trades Hall secretary Luke Martin has begun a petition urging the government to legislate staff to resident ratios in the private aged care sector.
"This is the only way we can ensure that we have adequate quality care for the residents of our aged care facilities," the petition states.
Mr Martin said private aged care homes always looked at cutting costs, like any for profit business. Unfortunately staff were among those costs, he said.
Mr Martin said the safety of both aged care residents and staff would be protected by appropriate staffing legislation.
"It's an industry that takes care of our vulnerable elderly citizens. Most of us know somebody or have a relative that's in facility," he said.
"For the residents, it means they will be able to be cared for, and have their specific needs taken care of if there's enough staff.
"There's also an OH&S element too. If there's not enough staff, the risks to the staff are much higher."
Mr Martin pointed specifically to not-for-profit aged care homes, which were still run as a business.
He hoped the petition would put pressure on the government to legislate staff to resident ratios in all private aged care facilities.
The Aged Care Act 1997 states aged care providers must "maintain an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff to ensure the care needs of recipients are met".
But the act does not outline specific numbers.
The petition references roster changes proposed by Royal Freemasons to its two Bendigo aged care homes.
Since the Bendigo Advertiser revealed Royal Freemasons planned to cut its rosters, the organisation has confirmed rosters will remain unchanged while Victoria is in a state of emergency.
The petition is directed to Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck.
Minister Colbeck said providers of residential aged care were required by law to meet Aged Care Quality Standards, to make sure quality care and services were given to all residents.
He said Commonwealth regulation did not prescribe qualifications required by staff, nor the number of staff required to be employed by a service. But he said it did set out instances where a registered nurse was required.
"The Quality Standards require organisations to have an effective and competent workforce where each staff member has the appropriate qualifications and knowledge to perform their role," Minister Colbeck said.
"Aged care homes are expected to consider the different levels of skills and abilities needed to meet residents' needs.
"Providers are expected to regularly review workforce levels and mix of skills of their staff, and adapt these to respond to the changing needs and situations of care recipients."
Department of Health was approached for comment.
Find the petition online at: bit.ly/2E3zGTB
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