Sep 08, 2017

Ratio of Skilled Staff to Care Recipients Bill: Mandating Aged Care Staffing Ratio

Staffing ratios has been an ongoing debate in aged care. Staff, residents and families have all been very vocal that better care comes from better staffing – and that means having more highly-trained nurses and appropriately-skilled carers available to offer care to Australia’s elderly.

Aged care consumers often complain that facilities staffing ratios are often low; with one carer or nurse responsible for caring for a large number of residents.

When this happens, the staff find themselves being rushed in trying to do their job properly. The “National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project Report 2016” found that residents should be receiving an average 4 hours and 18 minutes of care per day – but instead only 2.84 hours is currently being provided.

Without a mandated staffing ratios, it is up to the individual aged care facility to determine how many staff they have scheduled on duty per shift. In some cases, carers are hired to take on the responsibilities that is normally given to a nurse.

Yesterday in Parliament, Senator Derryn Hinch introduced the Aged Care Amendment (Ratio of Skilled Staff to Care Recipients Bill 2017), which aims to ensure that safe, quality care is provided to residents in aged care homes.

“Unfortunately, many of these Australians who have given so much to society are highly vulnerable, and are not currently guaranteed the standard of care they deserve within our aged care facilities,” said Senator Hinch.

“The passage of this Bill would be an important step in moving towards an aged care system that is more focussed on the protection of the elderly than on profit margins of aged care facilities.”

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) are urging for senators to vote for the bill that would ensure a specific number of carers and nurses per number of aged care residents.

Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the ANMF’s national aged care workforce survey showed that 92% of nurses and carers said they were now being asked to care for the same number of residents with less staff, less hours and that 90% said current staffing levels aren’t adequate to provide, essential daily care for residents.

“Our members keep warning that inadequate levels of registered and enrolled nurses and appropriately trained care workers means that the basic care they can provide, including feeding and bathing, is being significantly compromised.”

“Without mandated staffing or care hours in nursing homes, the Federal Government is allowing aged care providers to decide on what an ‘adequate’ level of care is and as we’ve recently seen in Queensland, some providers aren’t doing the right thing – sacking nurses and slashing hundreds of care hours,” Thomas said in reference to the Bundaberg aged care job cuts.

Thomas said that ANMF were particularly grateful to Senator Hinch, “he has listened to the concerns of aged care workers about how nursing home residents are suffering because of nursing and care worker shortages and an ongoing reduction in rostered care hours.”

Ms Thomas said the ANMF and its members will be meeting with Senator Hinch and other Senators and MPs in the coming weeks to advocate for the passing of the Bill through Parliament.

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  1. Many residents are lucky to get 30 minutes a day care ..if they are ambient and only need surpervision for showering that can often be the only care / interaction they get all day apart from interaction when medications are given .. The care ratio in nursing homes seems to running one pca per wing being average of 25/30 residents per wing .. Staffing ratio increases in mornings for showers & breakfast & again evenings for dinner & settling residents to bed .
    Residents that need to be showered usually get showered every second day .. Not much staff resident interaction on a daily basis at all Especially since ageing in place was introduced into nursing homes

  2. That would be an excellent bill to pass . Good for Darren Hinch always a man for the people. I worked age care for 23 years and the need for more staff especially on the floor has increased but nothing has been done about it . Let’s hope that this bill is passed and acted on sooner than later. Theses residents deserve so much more than someone coming toileting, showering , dressing and sitting them in a chair. Company is the one thing they all desire. Just to feel they matter. A few more ot assistants would not go amiss eather visiting the ones that cannt go far from their rooms. And I just have to say one more thing .when family’s say they are going to visit please come or don’t tell your loved one that you are coming . Many a time I have sat and comforted resident while they cried and stated they were just burdens to they family’s and wished they were dead. Sorry if I rambled on but this is truely how it is .ld age shouldn’t be like that it could be YOU one day . Your sincerely Carole

  3. There is nothing worse than visiting your parents in a facility and they have a stale odour about them. Having both parents that have always had excellent personal hygiene and both still mostly continent, this is unacceptable. On some occasions when I have visited they have just showered with assistance and still don’t have that freshly showered smell. Being asked to just have a sponge as the staff don’t have time to shower them is an insult. Not changing dressings and refusing medication when requested is another issue that is unacceptable, . I could go on forever with shortfalls in my parents care or lack there of. Most of the staff do their best, but are time poor to be able to do their job to an acceptable standard.

  4. This bill should have been realised years ago, the staffing ratios are far too low, our older generation deserve so much more care and attention than they currently receive!

  5. Its soooo long overdue. Because of time constraints there is also a high risk of injury. If childcare can have the ratio why not aged care?

  6. In many faucilities PCAs are now replacing EENs for medication rounds even in high care. This means NO dresssings and misssed non packed medications. Just to save a few dollars, and the number of PCAs are not increased therefore less time with residents. I’ve seen Meds just left in front of residents who are totaly incapable of taking on own.

  7. I have worked in agedcare facilities both in melbourne and brisbane. Agedcare has always been under staffed and it puts alot of pressure on staff because they become tired and have not a lot of patience left. Residents can be so demanding at times- I think they ring for assistance alot because they need more socialization but it puts alot of pressure on the staff who dont have the time to listen and give them more TLC. Payrates from state to state differ so much too.

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