The current research paper provides the discussion of one of the major issues of the Australian nursing homes. This issue is connected in the unethical treatment by nurses of aged patients. All the information and data is taken from official sources and articles. The results of various researches support the ideas presented in the current work. Much attention is paid to the causes and consequences of the breach of fundamental rights of people who obtain treatment at aged care facilities. The determined challenges of treatment cause a decrease in the quality of rendered services thus worsening the physical and psychological health of aged individuals in Australian nursing homes.
The Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia specifies values of ethical treatment of patients at health care providing institutions. Ostaszkiewicz, O'Connell, & Dunning (2014) state major goals of aged care facilities in Australia. These goals are the following: upholding the rights of the aged people to choice, participation and independent decision making concerning their medical treatment. However, these values and goals are not realized and, sometimes, even breached in the Australian nursing homes. Various causes and consequences of the existing breaches and discovered treatment issues are described in the article “Resident’s rights and nurses’ ethics in the Australian nursing home” by Tucket (2005).In turn, Daniel Avila (1993) in his work “Medical treatment rights of older persons and persons with disabilities”, emphasizes the lack of competency, education, knowledge and skills of the health care providers in nursing homes. Michael Barnett and Robert Hayes (2010) in their work “Not seen and not heard: Protecting elder human rights in aged care” provide the statistical information obtained from official research. Outcomes of studies presented in their work revealed the existing unjustified treatment of aged people and the negative effects of the limitation of their fundamental rights in the Australian nursing institutions.
The current research paper provides the discussion of the issue of the violation of residents’ rights in aged care facilities in Australia. This issue has triggered public attention because of the unethical behavior of health care providers in the Australian nursing homes. Different researches and studies form the background of the qualitative analysis. The information is taken from the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia. This official document provides an understanding of the established values in rendering medical treatment. Every source was chosen using the following phrases: ethical treatment of aged people in Australian aged care facilities, issues of nursing homes, and the violation of rights at aged care facilities in Australia. Articles and researches were chosen by using the following parameters: their relevance to the discussed topic, the credibility of the described investigations and clear and supportive presentation of the information.
Analysis of the Information and Results
At the present moment, aged people in the Australian nursing homes face numerous ethical issues. The majority of these issues are caused by the inadequate work of the staff. Employees in the Australian aged care facilities are “too busy, short of time and short – staffed” (Tucket, 2005). Hence, they do not spend sufficient time on communication with the aged people. Health care providers cannot clearly determine patient’s needs and perceptions. According to the statistical information presented in the article “Residents’ rights and nurses’ ethics in the Australian nursing home”, the time that a registered nurse spends for one patient varies from 18 min to 42 min a day (Tucket, 2005). This time is enough only for the performance of routine and inevitable procedures, like washing and feeding. Residents in the Australian aged care facilities are treated as objects, upon which some actions should be performed to support their life. What is more, they are attended to without adequate respect of their dignity. The absence of any informal communication between nurses and aged people became the background for the violation of rights of the residents.
At the same time, the Australian nursing homes should uphold the rights of the aged people to choice, participation and independent decision making (Ostaszkiewicz, O'Connell, & Dunning, 2014). According to the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia, nurses should recognize the right of any treated individual on active and informed participation whenever it is possible (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2008). However, nowadays the aged people in the Australian nursing homes cannot realize these rights. It happened because health care providers do not discuss with them treatment methods or procedures. Aged people are not treated as personalities who have the influence on the process of providing health care services. Their personal opinions concerning the methods of medical treatment are neglected. Even informal topics are not discussed with them. They are not considered as individuals who take an active part in social processes, have an influence on these processes, or even have some relevant personal opinions that can be announced. Aged people in the Australian nursing homes have enough communication only with each other. They have no sufficient interaction with the outer world and the relevant processes. They are on their final days. Thus, the lack of communication between nurses and patients has a considerable negative effect on the quality of rendered services. This happened because health care providers in Australian aged facilities cannot always recognize which services are acceptable for the aged person and which are not.
Much attention should be paid to the fact the majority employees of the aged facilities do not possess the necessary education, knowledge and skills (Avila, 1993). According to the official investigation presented in the article “Not seen and not heard: Protecting elder human rights in aged care”, about 60 per cent of the staff of the Australian nursing homes have a low qualification and did not complete necessary training (Barnett & Hayes, 2010). Hence, these people cannot provide high – quality health care assistance. Also, incompetent nurses cannot effectively deal with high care needs of the aged residents. It should be noted that, according to the same investigation, about 70 per cent of adults in Australian aged care facilities require experienced and competent staff because of their health condition (Barnett & Hayes, 2010). However, the administrations of these institutions consider that educated professionals “don’t have time to sit and hold hands when people are dying” (Avila, 1993). Professional staff is required for treatment of the younger patients. Consequently, the combination of such factors as the lack of interpersonal interaction between aged patients and nurses and insufficient competence of the staff leads to the situation when the quality of services rendered to the residents in the Australian nursing homes is lower than the quality of medical treatment of other individuals in other medical institutions. Hence, the fundamental human rights reflected in receiving the highest attainable health care service are violated (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2008).
In the existing practices, nurses prefer to abide by the established methodologies of rendering services. As it is noted in the article “Medical treatment rights of older persons and persons with disabilities”, “culture takes precedence over individual’s needs” (Avila, 1993). Hence, health care providers in the Australian nursing homes do not fulfill to one more value stated in the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia. This value reflects the right of each patient to be treated as a unique individual. It is based on the understanding that each person has unlike medical and social needs and perceptions.
The above-mentioned breach of generally established values is connected with the negligence of the health care providers in aged care facilities. Daniel Avila (1993) in his article describes such treatment as the failure of the timely and consistent provision of safe medical services. The negligence is caused by the lack of care, attentiveness and personal omissions of nurses. It is reflected in the unethical treatment of aged individuals. The above-mentioned failures can be considered as abuses of the residents of the Australian nursing homes because these acts occur within interaction connected with the implication of trusts. They cause psychological and physical harm to an elderly person. Michael Barnett and Robert Hayes (2010) in their article “Not seen and not heard: Protecting elder human rights in aged care” state that, nowadays, aged people face considerable unjustified restrictions on personal freedoms at nursing homes. Nurses place limitations on personal autonomy and freedom of movement. Also, residents suffer from the low quality of accommodation and food (Barnett & Hayes, 2010).
Such factors as negligence, breach of values and human rights, as well as treatment by the incompetent staff, have a considerable negative impact on the psychological and physical health of the residents of aged care facilities. These factors create a depressive and negative environment in the Australian nursing homes. Patients feel themselves suppressed and disappointed due to the lack of communication. Nobody asks them about how they feel during the provision of medical procedures. Patients face the lack of communication on informal topics because they are not considered as the valuable members of the society at the end stage of their lives. Residents’ essential and fundamental rights to take the active part in their own lives are broken. They are not connected to significant things and activities. Aged people are just treated as objects that will die in the nearest time. Nowadays, the “essence of being home” in aged care facilities is negated (Avila, 1993). Unethical treatment of nurses causes depression and oppression. Aged people become less interested in their lives. The above-mentioned issues lead to the situation when the aged care facilities lead to shortening of patients’ happy life instead of its support and prolongation.
The existing unethical treatment of health care providers of the aged individuals in the Australian nursing homes is caused by the following factors: lack of time and willingness for informal communication with aged people and insufficient knowledge and skills of health care providers. All these factors lead to non – recognition of the needs and perceptions of each particular person. Residents are treated as objects that will die soon. Their views on the process of treatment or some other subjects are not considered as relevant. The patients’ rights to the informed participation and obtaining of the highest attainable health care service are infringed. Often, aged people suffer from negligence, and physical and psychological abuse. In some Australian aged facilities, there are limitations of personal autonomy and freedom of movement for their residents. Unethical treatment of aged individuals in the Australian nursing homes has a considerable negative impact on residents’ physical and psychological health. The majority of these patients do not obtain the necessary treatment. Hence, aged people feel themselves suppressed and disappointed. The current work shows that existing aged care facilities lead to shortening of patients’ happy life instead of its support and prolongation.