Dangerous understaffing in aged care is resulting in missed care and even preventable injury and death. Vulnerable older Australians are suffering while providers continue to unashamedly boost their profits while avoiding scrutiny.
Right now in our aged care facilities:
- Basic care is being missed, including showering, feeding, hydration, and oral hygiene.
- Carers are expected to spend no more than 10 minutes to shower each resident.
- Residents are being left for hours in their own waste and vomit.
- It is not unheard of for one Registered Nurse to be allocated up to 200 residents.
Why is this happening?
Hard-pressed nurses and care staff are doing their best in often impossible circumstances, but there are simply not enough of them to provide the quality care they know they can.
That’s because there are currently no laws dictating how many nurses and support staff are required to provide safe care.
Australia has strict staff ratios for childcare. But there are no ratios for aged care.
In the last five years, Australia’s estimated 900 private aged care providers have received more than $60 billion federal taxpayer dollars. They do not have to publicly report how any of the funds are spent.
Many providers are putting profits above quality care. This is why we need safe staffing and financial reporting to be made LAW in aged care.
How do we fix it?
The evidence is in, and the solution is clear: we need legislated ratios in aged care now!
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation has conducted extensive research into the benefits of ratios. In 2018 the ANMF published its National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project Report.
Our aged care facilities need:
- An average 4.3 hours of nursing per resident per day (residents are currently getting just 2.86 hours).
- A skill mix requirement of 30% RNs, 20% ENs, and 50% AINs/PCs.
- Minimum 1 Registered Nurse rostered 24/7. artsuA
Australians want to see:
- Safe staff numbers – introduce laws on staff to resident ratios.
- Accountability – improve transparency by forcing providers to publicly report staff numbers, skill mix, and how public money is spent.
- Funding – a guarantee that tax payer funding is used for nursing for each resident.
- Safety and quality – ensure there is the right skill mix of nurses and carers to provide the best care.
- Workforce – improve pay, conditions and job security for aged care workers.
Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was first established in October 2018 in response to the many aged care issues identified by the media, enquiries and reports.
After more than two years of hearings and evidence, the Commission released its final report to the public on 1 March 2021.
The report, titled Care, Dignity and Respect, makes 148 recommendations and calls for fundamental reform of the aged care system.
These wide-ranging recommendations include:
- A new Aged Care Act that puts older people first, enshrining their rights and providing a universal entitlement for high quality and safe care based on assessed need.
An Inspector-General of Aged Care to identify and investigate systemic issues and to publish reports of its findings.
- A plan to deliver, measure and report on high quality aged care, including independent standard-setting, a general duty on aged care providers to ensure quality and safe care, and a comprehensive approach to quality measurement, reporting and star ratings.
- Professionalising the aged care workforce through changes to education, training, wages, labour conditions and career progression.
- Registration of personal care workers as well as a minimum staff time standard for residential aged care.
- A minimum quality and safety standard for staff time in residential aged care, including an appropriate skills mix and daily minimum staff time for registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers for each resident, and at least one registered nurse on site at all times.
- Strengthened provider governance arrangements to ensure independence, accountability and transparency.
- Funding to meet the actual cost of high quality care and an independent Pricing Authority to determine the costs of delivering it.
Together with the ANMF, we'll be undertaking a thorough review and analysis of these recommendations.
The Royal Commissioners have asked the federal government to respond to their recommendations by 31 May 2021.
We will continue to put the pressure on our federal politicians and the federal government to commit to act on the report's recommendations.
Read a summary of the final report and full list of recommendations.