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Cleaners to carry out health checks on care home patients10th of October 2012
Cleaners in care facilities in Western Australia are to be trained to carry out basic health checks such as taking temperatures and dressing wounds.
The aim of the government-funded move is to leave health professionals free to address more complex medical issues. But critics claim that investment into increased numbers of medical staff would be a better use of funds.
Australia minister for ageing Mark Butler has authorised funding for Western Australia care provider Bethanie to test the programme. Staff working in roles such as cleaning, personal care, nutrition and physiotherapy will be trained to identify health issues early on and avoid residents becoming sick and needing to go to hospital.
Bethanie's chief operating officer in residential services Christopher How stressed that the new team of support staff would not be involved in assessing or diagnosing medical conditions.
"We will shift up the competencies of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and care workers to provide better care and prevent falls and unplanned hospital transfers," he said. "We're looking at care workers being able to carry out tasks such as dressing wounds, keeping wounds clean until a nurse assesses them, and padding bed rails to prevent sores.
"We would also teach them to carry out basic observations such as temperature, pulse and blood pressure and to recognise when the readings are above a certain level and need to be reported to someone up the line."
However, Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong says the money would be better spent on increasing the number of trained health professionals working in aged care instead of creating a 'pseudo workforce'.