Calls for mandated minimum staffing levels for residential aged care 

17 June 2020

Article from April 2020 INPractice

In February our ‘Ratios for Aged Care’ campaign reached a major milestone... when recommendations by Senior Counsel Assisting, Mr Peter Rozen QC, to the Aged Care Royal Commissioners included mandated minimum staffing levels and skills mix in the system.

This importantly includes “that there is a registered nurse (RN) present on each shift and available to direct or provide care subject to limited exceptions”.

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM welcomed the move, saying “we have been strongly advocating for mandated staffing ratios for aged care since the ANMF National Aged Care Campaign launched on International Nurses Day, May 12, 2018. These recommendations reflect the work  of many people who are committed to ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people in our community receive the care they deserve’’.

“We know that more staff are needed to deliver the quality of care nurses and aged care workers want to deliver and that the community expects,” she said.

In a submission put to the Royal Commissioners in a hearing in Adelaide in February, Mr Rozen’s recommendations focused on addressing dangerously low staffing levels in nursing homes, in order  to achieve safe, high-quality care for residents and stop the ‘exodus’ of workers from the industry.

Commenting on Mr Rozen’s submission, ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said: “On behalf of our members working in aged care, the ANMF welcomes Mr Rozen’s practical recommendations put forward to the Royal Commissioners.

“The ANMF supports Mr Rozen’s recommendations to mandate the minimum numbers of nurses and qualified care staff that would be rostered, ensuring better, safer continuity of care for residents.

“As we’ve heard from our members in aged care and in the harrowing evidence from residents and their families, workforce issues, particularly inadequate staffing levels, have been the cause for much of their pain and suffering,” Ms Butler said.

Although, these recommendations have the potential to have a wide-reaching positive impact on staffing levels, and ultimately the care that is received by patients and residents, there is much more that needs to be done in terms of workforce reform.

“We want to see, in terms of workforce reform, the transparent tying of funding to particular workforce outcomes to ensure the money will actually lead to improvements in the wages and working conditions of people in the sector,”  Ms Dabars said.

The ANMF will continue to contribute to the Commission’s proceedings as it works towards completing its final report and recommendations to the Government  later in the year.

Senior Counsel Assisting Mr Peter Rozen QC’s recommendations:

  • That there is a registered nurse (RN) present on each shift and available to direct or provide care subject to limited exceptions;
  • an approved provider of residential aged care services should have to meet mandatory minimum staffing requirements;
  • registered nurses, including nurse practitioners, should make up a greater proportion of the care workforce than is presently the case;
  • all aged care workers should receive better training;
  • unregulated care workers should be subject to a registration process with a minimum mandatory qualification as an entry requirement;
  • the care workforce should be better remunerated and should work in safe workplaces;
  • the organisations for which they work should be better managed and governed, and
  • the Australian Government should provide practical leadership.

To read the full list of recommendations in Mr Rozen QC’s submission go to:

Aged Care Assessment Services to remain in public hands
Following the strong condemnation of the proposal to privatise Aged Care Assessment Teams, we have welcomed the Commonwealth’s decision to no longer proceed with their previous tender process.

The Federal Government has since agreed to work with the States and Territories to have a consistent, uniform, efficient and integrated aged care assessment process that meets the needs of senior Australians and their families. Over the longer term the Commonwealth will take advice from States and Territories and from the Royal Commission about what the exact delivery mix should be.

Click here to read the April 2020 edition of INPractice