Oct 28, 2022

Bill for 24/7 nursing and home care cap passes Senate

28_10_2022 Bill 2

All residential aged care facilities will be required to have Registered Nurses onsite 24/7 and home care providers will be capped on administration and management fees, after the second Aged Care Reform Bill passed the Senate yesterday.

The Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 was introduced to Parliament in July and has been slow to move through the Lower House and Upper House compared to the first Aged Care Reform Bill – Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 – that was introduced and passed in early August.

This latest legislation includes:

  • 24/7 nursing in residential aged care
  • Increased transparency through regular financial and operational reporting by approved providers, such as reporting on the spend on care, nursing, food, maintenance, cleaning, administration, and profits
  • A ban on exit fees for Home Care Packages
  • A cap on administration and management fees for Home Care Packages 

Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, said that this legislation passing was a huge step towards restoring “dignity and humanity” in aged care and will bring the country closer to delivering the care older Australians deserve. 

“This legislation demonstrates our commitment to making public what aged care providers are spending their money on, ensuring a fair and transparent system for our older Australians, their families and carers,” said Minister Wells.

“This will be supported by the initiatives we have in place to grow the workforce and boost the skills of aged care nurses.

“Transparency is paramount to care recipients’ informed choice and control, and we want to see taxpayer funds being spent on what they are meant for, which is improving the care of older Australians.”

The passing of this Bill has been welcomed by industry, advocacy and law peak bodies, following important amendments recommended by the sector

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is glad to see this reform come into law, creating greater protection for older Australians accessing aged care.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OPAN, Craig Gear, said that speeding up the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s timeline for “round-the-clock” Registered Nurses will ensure older people get the right level of care.

“Older people’s increasing health complexities require staff with the corresponding level of health and medical skill. And we know health-related incidents don’t only occur during the day,” explains Mr Gear.

Mr Gear added that there was a need for exemptions under the 24/7 mandate for limited circumstances, including regional, rural and remote facilities that are unable to recruit staff with the right skills – however, these providers need to demonstrate the use of other supports like telehealth services.

OPAN also wants to see the information on nursing exemptions made publicly available and easily accessible for older people and their families and carers.

The new legislation has specific requirements of a 12-month limitation on exemptions for providers, which will ensure regular reviews of these exemptions.

Additionally, OPAN is thrilled to see Home Care Package exit fees are now banned and that there will be caps on administration fees and management costs. 

Mr Gear explained that one of the most frequent complaints OPAN advocates received was around these fees, which caused major alarm for older people.

CEO of Aged and Community Care Providers Australia (ACCPA), Tom Symondson, also expressed that ACCPA has welcomed this legislation and its place within aged care.

“[This is] an important step along the road to fixing Australia’s aged care system and realising the vision set out by the Royal Commission,” said Mr Symondson.

The Law Council of Australia also commended the Government on the passage of the Bill, stating it implements key recommendations from the Royal Commission while taking on feedback from industry experts.

In particular, the Law Council was glad to see the amendments made in the Bill during the debate stage, which strengthened the legislation. 

Before getting through the Senate, this second Bill faced a lot of criticism and scrutiny due to lacking clarity around how some of the provisions in the legislation would impact the sector, but these questions appear to have been answered before the Bill passed yesterday.

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  1. 1 Registered Nurse for large facilities, especially facilities on 2 or more levels is not sufficient. Would it be more appropriate to have a ratio for registered nurses in facilities? Or at least lobby for such a ratio?

  2. Good luck with finding RNs to work in the industry let alone the AINs who come and go like a revolving door. Why? Because it is overwhelmingly hard work and nobody smart would work for the pathetic rates of pay these Aged Care businesses pay the staff. We have always had one Nurse on night shift, obviously a few smaller places don’t but if wages don’t reach 25% forget all your rules as anything under a 25% payrise for all carers and RNs etc still won’t meet any standards of care. I have only ever seen 2 cleaners in a 120 bed facility at my place of work. We have been told the AINs have to sweep and mop floors due to cockroaches and mice inhabiting our facility. Since the rains we have had mice hiding in our wards and told to clean the floors. Ofcourse we sweep up messes after residents have eaten. But who’s job is it to mop floors and clean outside verandahs of faeces and urine outside Dementia wards? Yep we do it! So short staffed and not enough cleaners to do what should be their job. We have one maintenence man working between 2 facilities and a General Manager working between 2 facilities atm!! We have dementia residents all over the place not just in our Dementia wards where we are always short staffed. AINs have to dish out meals as most of the catering staff left but then we have been doing this forever as well as cleaning and younthink these experts have solved the Aged Care problem with making it mandatory to have 24/7 RNs on board?? Our cleaners hardly clean. Toilets with years of stains inside the bowls that we the AINS clean with a toilet brush but the stains are permanently there and stains around the base of Toilets that need professional cleaning. Faces inside bedside drawers of dementia resident that cleaners are supposed to check but left for us the AINs as our cleaners have some contract that says they don’t clean any bodily fluids. A very clean job for them I must say. They only spot clean the floors! You could have fooled me as I have seen stains on the floors that have been there for over a week so I will mop the floors on dementia! We have 2 AINs working on dementia wards and often only one in the morningsbtue busiest time we have AINs working in the kitchen when catering are short and laundry when the 4 staff they have for 120 residents are sick. AINS are so badly used to carry the load of others to save money it is disgraceful! So unless the experts do proper checks on the no of staff working in this industry we will have residents and staff getting sick from a lack of cleaners. Why Aged care believe they can get away with using the AINs to do everything is something our governments have excepted for years! More staff all round like we have in hospitals and 25% pay rise may fix the issues plaguing this industry as anything else lower than that would be an insult!

  3. Well I read the Courier Mail yesterday about new employees in alot of industries struggling to employ staff have been offering a better rate of pay than staff who have been employed for years. Well the same has been happening at my aged care facility. An AIN told me she earns over a dollar more. Haha I know nothing to get excited about or even too angry about, but she isn’t the only one as a new laundry employee is earning more than the poor laundry staff who have slogged it out for yrs! Surely this is wrong. A real kick in the guts to the experienced long term staff!
    Just saying. Watch out as it is apparently happening in alot of places. So much for loyalty as alot of great longnterm staff would probably have stayed if they were offered more. Just a number to be replaced easily in a revolving door of the Aged Care industries.

    1. The older AIN / CSE staff are leaving because their experience is not counted for nothing
      And we know things are wrong we speak up but just get made to shut up or get push out
      Aged care is sinking ship and will be left with no staff at all.

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