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Call for providers to release staff ratios

Aged care providers should be required to report staff-to-patient ratios on a quarterly basis, a Federal committee has recommended.

A new Bill presented to Parliament last week recommends aged care providers release staff ratios. (Source: Shutterstock)

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport presented its Advisory Report on the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 to Parliament on 7 December.

The Bill follows the Committee’s recently released Report on the Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia, which highlighted that an appropriate number of staff was a “critical component of the delivery of quality aged care”, and recommended the introduction of mandatory minimum staffing levels.

Committee Chair Trent Zimmerman MP says the Bill will increase consumers’ access to staffing information at aged care facilities.

“The Committee has recommended the passage of the Bill and welcomes the increased transparency for consumers that will be provided by the publication of staffing ratios,” Mr Zimmerman says.

“The Committee has also recommended that staffing ratios be published with additional contextual information to assist consumers interpret the data and enable them to be in a better position to make an informed choice.”

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke says the Bill is a simple way of increasing transparency, choice and ultimately quality in residential aged care.

“This is basic information that should have always been available to consumers and families when choosing an aged care facility,” Mr Henschke says.

“The bill offers a common sense approach to the issue of residential aged care and, if passed, will give consumers and their families more understanding about the capacity of an aged care home to look after older people’s needs.”

“The provision of care to older Australians is labour intensive. It requires adequate numbers of staff with appropriate qualifications to give assistance to residents who are increasingly frail and who are often suffering difficult medical conditions, such as dementia, which require constant support and supervision.”

Introduced by South Australian independent MP Rebekha Sharkie, the Bill also reiterates recommendations from the Committee’s previous report that the Government should ensure residential aged care facilities provide a minimum of one Registered Nurse to be on site at all times, and investigate the correlation between standards of care, including complaints and findings of elder abuse, and staffing mixes.

The report is available on the Committee’s website here.


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