Regulating aged care workers

28 May 2020

The Department of Health is seeking feedback on a scheme for regulating aged care workers.

There are more than 366,000 aged care workers in Australia and despite current controls concerns have been raised by stakeholders about incidences of abuse and neglect and the unsuitability of some workers.

The Aged Care Worker Regulation Scheme Consultation paper aims to enhance the quality and safety of aged care as well as the protection and choice of consumers, protect the rights of workers and minimise the cost to stakeholders.

It highlights how aged care workers are currently screened and regulated and the subsequent limitations, Australian Ageing Agenda says. It also details existing and comparable screening and registration schemes such as minimum qualifications, ongoing professional development, criminal history assessments and English language proficiency.

The consultation responds to various inquiries and reports over the past five years recommending implementation of a worker screening or registration scheme. Most recently, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has been exploring this issue, with a focus on a registration scheme specific to personal care workers.

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said LASA supported the concept of an aged care worker regulation scheme.

“It is imperative the people who deliver care and services across aged care are acknowledged for their qualifications, work and dedication,” Mr Rooney told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“A well-designed scheme will help ensure a stream of suitable people come into the care sector, at a time when staffing rates are forecast to grow strongly. It will streamline access to care careers and contribute to the professionalism required to maintain and improve standards,” he said.

However, ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj. Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said the regulation scheme “ignores the submissions made over many years seeking regulation of aged care workers by the NMBA/AHPRA.

“It appears to create the potential to require existing regulated staff (e.g., nurses and AHPs) to also be regulated under the aged care scheme, which is madness.’’

The Department of Health is seeking input from all organisations and individuals, including consumers, their families and carers, with an interest in the aged care sector. The consultation’s online survey closes on 29 June.

Access the paper and survey at: