Concerned residents continue to stand in protest over the drop in staffing numbers for the new Gloucester aged care facility every Thursday.
Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) Gloucester branch had intended to hold an awareness rally in mid-March, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was postponed.
With restrictions eased, around 50 NSWNMA Gloucester branch members, nursing home residents and members of the community gathered out front of the Gloucester Soldiers' Memorial Hospital on Thursday, June 11.
Armed with placards and signs, the NSWNMA member-driven stance was designed to bring awareness to the community about the changes that will occur when the new Anglican Care facility opens later this year.
Since then, the protest has continued every Thursday as a way of ensuring the message stays at the forefront within the community.
Anglican Care chief executive officer, Colin Osborne confirmed in late March that the new nursing home will run under a different staffing model.
"Our facility will take fewer staff to run it in a contemporary way than it is currently at Gloucester hospital," Mr Osborne explained.
According to Mr Osborne, the current facility is run under an acute care public hospital model as is required by Hunter New England Health (HNEH), but that this is different to other nursing home models.
Health is a complicated matter with some cross-over existing between Federal and State governments. Currently, Gloucester's nursing home is run by Hunter New England Health, which is State run, but the bed licences are a Federal allocation.
Therefore, nursing home staffing requirements in facilities outside of a hospital are governed by the Commonwealth.
When HNEH decided to get out of aged care, it tendered its bed licences instead of returning them, meaning there will need to be a handover between HNEH and Anglican Care, which won the tender.
Current HNEH staff seem to be caught in the crossfire, with many unsure of whether or not they will have a job in the new nursing home.
What is known is that the current staffing which sees a Registered Nurse (RN) rostered on 24/7 will no longer be required, nor are the staffing ratio numbers due to be the same.
Branch member, Jodie Zimmerman is concerned not only for drop in level of care for residents but also for the loss of families in the community, with some inevitably having to relocate in order to keep employment.
"The hope is that we will get more RNs," Ms Zimmerman said.
Retired nurse and Gloucester resident, Maree Norris is proud to stand up for the matter, taking part in the protest on Thursday, July 2.
"The level of expertise will not be there," Ms Norris said.
Gloucester resident, Marion Rounsley is standing up for her aunt, who lives in Hillcrest, the high level of care unit in Gloucester's current nursing home.
"She's a retired nurse and was second in charge of the nurses union," Ms Rounsley said. "She's looking forward to moving to the new facility but she's worried about the level of care."
The Gloucester branch has written to Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen, Member for Lyne David Gillespie and State opposition leader and Gloucester native, Jody McKay and is encouraging concerned members of the community to do the same.
Ms Zimmerman said they will continue to stand up on Thursday mornings for as long as they need to, "just to let people know that we aren't going away."
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