My father-in-law who is 86 years old was recently admitted to hospital with pneumonia. While the old man’s condition is stable, I noticed that something has changed in nursing.
When I visited the old chap in hospital, I noticed something in his ward that I found rather odd. Of the on duty staff, 4 nurses were Indian, 1 was Chinese and 3 were Muslim of Arabic appearance. With no disrespect intended or inferred with respect of these nurses or their backgrounds, I wondered how this had come to be.
Australia, like other countries in the western world, suffers from shortage of many experienced professional practitioners. None moreso than health professionals – doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists and so on.
Similarly in Australia there is a large pool of unregistered but trained nurses, women (usually) who trained as nurses as young women but left the profession for many reasons, but usually to raise children, who now consider a return to the workforce. However these women find that as part of the re-registration process, they must complete a refresher course which can cost the former nurse upwards of $5,000.
The response of government has been peculiar. Rather than to assist these former Australian nurses to re-enter the nursing workforce by actively assisting them to complete their refresher course, the Australian government actively encourages the recruitment of nurses from overseas countries, especially those from Commonwealth countries and the USA.
Surely support Australian nurses wanting to return to the workforce is just as important as the recuitment of overseas nurses?
The other thing that I noticed was the distinct lack on hands on patient care. Basic nursing care and procedures do not seem to occur. Showers, pressure area care, oral hygeine for bed-bound patients just does not seem to happen. Things have changed drastically since I graduated in 1979. The transfer of nursing education to the university sector from a hospital based model, and the delivery of high-level health care has perhaps been to the detriment of basic level but essential patient care.