VICTORIANS would no doubt have been as appalled as I was on reading in an April seniors magazine that one staff member had been on duty overnight to care for 50 aged residents in a residential facility.


Such a ratio is not surprising, however, given the paucity of the legislation regarding staffing requirements - approximately 4 lines - in the 379-page Aged Care Act (1997). And although aged care received a brief appearance on the front pages this weekend, the quality of care is unlikely to change dramatically while providers and the Productivity Commission view ratios as unnecessary and a ''blunt instrument''.

This is astounding, given that a recent report commissioned by the Department of Health and Ageing found the system to be lacking with regard to the delivery of high-quality residential care for dementia sufferers, with ''1600 new cases being diagnosed every week and [its prevalence] likely to double over the next 20 years.''

While providers have licence to employ minimal numbers of registered nurses and a majority of minimally trained personal care workers - at such pitiful ratios to residents - it is little wonder that the prospect of entering residential aged care is viewed so negatively.

Glenda Addicott, East Ringwood