Oct 26, 2018

Community should support greater transparency in nursing home staffing

Community support for a Bill which would see aged care providers forced to publicly disclose the number of staff they roster on to care for elderly nursing home residents, is being strongly encouraged by the country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler described the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018, as a vital first step in making taxpayer-funded aged providers publicly accountable for the level and type of staffing they provide to their residents. Already, 29 of 33 published Submissions to a Parliamentary Inquiry have supported the Bill, which was moved by the Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.

The Bill is now being examined by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport, which had earlier recommended that the Government impose a mandatory staffing ratio of 1 x Registered Nurse (RN) on roster at all aged care facilities 24/7.

The Committee’s Chair, the Member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman, said: “While many Australians experience high quality aged care, the community is justifiably concerned about the many examples of abuse and mistreatment that have been exposed through recent inquiries and reporting. Our Committee received submissions from many residents and family members which outlined harrowing examples of mistreatment. This is not good enough for a nation like Australia.”

Ms Butler said the ANMF was encouraged that the Committee recognised the urgent need for mandated minimum staffing levels in Australia’s residential aged care homes.

“The ANMF has been calling for minimum staff ratios in nursing homes to be legislated to give certainty for elderly residents and their families that the right numbers of staff, with the right mix of skills, are available at all times to provide them with the safe, best practice care they deserve. Ms Sharkie’s Bill would be an excellent first step towards achieving safe staffing levels, by making providers publicly report on the staffing and skills mix levels offered in their facilities,” Ms Butler explained.

“The decision to place a relative or loved one in a nursing home is an incredibly stressful, emotional experience for individuals and the family which is why we believe this simple disclosure of staffing ratios would assist consumers and family members in making an informed decisions about which home to choose.”

Ms Butler will give evidence to the Health, Aged Care and Sport Standing Committee at a public roundtable of stakeholders in Canberra today, as part of the its Inquiry into Aged Care

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