A Health union has called for extended care assistants, who represent more than two-thirds of the aged care workforce, to be regulated on a par with nurses.
The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Nurses Federation made the comments in response to a Legana nursing home death inquest heard this week in Launceston.
``This unfortunate incident demonstrates the compromise to the quality and safety of aged care services to the community through adoption of work practices where the resident and family and the nursing team employees are all exposed to unacceptable levels of risk due to inadequate staffing as a cost-saving measure,'' union secretary Neroli Ellis said.
But the nursing home's parent company, Aged Care Services Australia Group, has defended its staffing ratios and systems calling the circumstances surrounding the death in question an ``aberration''.
Tamar Park resident Stanley Valentine Whiley, 67, was in palliative care and expected to die quickly from acute illness including heart disease and a recent stroke.
On March 6, 2010, Mr Whiley died after mistakenly being given 10 times the intended dose of morphine by registered nurse Julie Lord to ease his pain.
The evidence was not conclusive whether it was a factor in his death.
Ms Lord was put in charge of the high-care facility, supervising 36 patients, on just her second shift as a registered nurse when she gave the injection.
Ms Lord drew the 25 milligrams of morphine into a syringe in front of a carer but neither noticed the mistake.
During the inquest it emerged the home's carers - despite their role in double-checking dangerous drug preparation - were not formally tested for competency in this task.
Tamar Park has since introduced formal medication management competency tests for carers.
Counsel assisting the coroner Chris Dockray asked if it had been a failing of Aged Care Services to have assumed carers were competent in medication administration.
``No I don't accept that, it's a very common practice right across Australia,'' the company's executive director for aged care services Julie Reed said.
The National Institute of Labour Studies 2012 report into the aged care sector shows carers make up 68 per cent of the industry's workforce.
Mrs Ellis said the decline in nurse numbers had sparked the increase in carers and greater regulation was needed.
Tamar Park had recently retrenched all its enrolled nurses before Mr Whiley's death but Ms Reed said this played no role in the incident.
She said enrolled nurses only ever worked the morning shift, while Mr Whiley died between 6pm and 10pm.