Maria’s daughter was distraught. Her mother was receiving palliative care in an aged care home and was in a great deal of pain at night. But her daughter had been told that no one could give pain medication after hours, as this required a registered nurse.

The daughter contacted Seniors Rights Service and, after gaining authority from Maria, an advocate contacted the home’s manager, who confirmed that the registered nurse started work at 8am. This meant Maria was in pain and distress for more than eight hours.

The advocate advised Maria’s daughter to contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner if this issue was not resolved. The advocate also said to Maria that anyone may call a locum doctor or ambulance if a resident’s needs are of concern. This case highlights the role of skilled nurses in aged care homes.