The Labor Government promise of a national registration system for aged care workers will be introduced to Parliament in 2023 alongside the new Aged Care Act.
This scheme, which was a recommendation from the Aged Care Royal Commission, was accepted in principle by the former Coalition Government. However, the former Government did not agree with the suggested model from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
The Labor Government has brought the registration scheme back into planning amidst other aged care reforms and the Health Department told HelloCare that waiting until next year to introduce the idea to Parliament will allow for consultation with stakeholders.
The stakeholders include States and Territories, who the Department said may need to support implementation of the system alongside care recipients and their families.
A spokesperson from the Health Department said, “We have listened and heard directly from the sector who support us and they want us to take the time to get this right.
“A measured approach is needed.”
This initiative is still being delivered ahead of the former Coalition Government’s national registration measure, which wasn’t due to commence for another 24 months.
The 2023 registration scheme is expected to include ongoing professional development requirements for aged care workers, English proficiency requirements and criminal history screening.
A national registration scheme for aged care workers has been a hot topic in the aged care sector, with some believing this would set minimum standards of practice for care workers and establish a system of Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
In 2019, an independent national registration body for aged care workers was established to address the issues of neglect, abuse and poor care found through the Aged Care Royal Commission. However, this independent body was opt-in and aged care workers needed to sign up themselves.
At the time, the Founder and Director of the Australian College of Care Workers (ACCW), Janet Lawrence, said that the Aged Care Royal Commission’s initial findings made it clear that the aged care sector needed accountability and trust rebuilt within the workforce.
With another year until the aged care worker registration scheme may be implemented, the aged care sector is largely supportive of the system as long as it doesn’t negatively impact an already struggling workforce.
The Health Services Union (HSU) NSW told the Sydney Morning Herald that the union is supportive of the registration of aged care workers, but they want to avoid the scheme being used as a “punitive” measure and that workers shouldn’t be expected to pay for their registration to a national system.
“We support registration that would encourage and promote training and enhancement of skills.”
HSU doesn’t want to see a national system that would ban a worker from the sector, as it could discourage people from entering or considering aged care as a viable work option.
Interim Chief Executive Officer of industry peak body Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), Paul Sadler, said that ACCPA is supportive of the upcoming registration system.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald that holding off the legislation until next year would also provide more time to get the worker registration process right.
“Interaction with nursing and allied health registration and interface with the NDIS registration process need to be resolved,” he said.
“We need to take time to support personal care staff to get prepared for a transition to a registration model.”