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Aged Care Bill adds transparency to staffing ratios

A Private Member’s Bill promising to provide greater transparency of staff-to-resident ratios in aged care facilities was introduced into Federal Parliament this week.

The numbers of staff in aged care could soon be disclosed if a new Bill is accepted (Source Shutterstock)
The numbers of staff in aged care could soon be disclosed if a new Bill is accepted (Source Shutterstock)

The Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018, introduced by Federal Member for Mayo in South Australia, Rebekha Sharkie, will allow residents and their families to make more informed choices regarding aged care facilities by knowing exactly how many nurses and carers are on duty at any given time.

Ms Sharkie believes the Bill is a necessary step towards transparency with providers.

“When I have an elderly man in tears in my office because his wife nearly choked to death in a residential care facility because he couldn’t find a staff member to help, then there is something wrong with the current system,” she says.

“I strongly urge the Government to support the referral of this Bill to an inquiry.”

The Bill would require providers to publish staffing ratios by qualification category on the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website every three months. If any ratios change by more than 10 percent, the Government must be notified within 28 days.

Qualification categories include registered nurses, enrolled nurses, nurses with a Certificate IV or equivalent, personal care attendants, allied health staff, as well as a number of other staff members.

“The Bill allows providers to add a short written statement to their published staffing ratio disclosures so they can explain the context of their staffing mix,” Ms Sharkie says.

“Centre Alliance is all about transparency in government and public policy and we believe that mandating the publication of staffing ratios will empower our community to make informed choices.”

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler says the Private Member’s Bill is the first step in helping vulnerable residents and their families.

“Residents, their families and the community all have a right to know, given that the country’s top for-profit aged care providers are posting large profits while taking advantage of more than $2 billion in taxpayer funded subsidies.”

“If they are doing the right thing and have the right number of nurses and carers rostered in their facilities, then providers should have nothing to hide.”

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