Jan 19, 2017

Staff Ratios Aged Care – What’s Recommended?

Earlier this week The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation released the National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project, the first of its kind in Australia.


What exactly does this mean for aged care workers, providers and people accessing the services?

The new project was developed in the hopes to better understand staffing methodology – Which broken down means the initiative was about finding out how many and what type (ie. personal care, enrolled nurse, registered nurse) are needed to care for the elderly at any one time in residential aged care.

The project undertook comprehensive research and developed an evidence based complexity profile. What this means is that they looked at the care requirements associated with looking after the elderly to see what interventions were being missed. From that the ANMF confirmed the need for a staffing model and a structure that could be used for residential aged care.


The Key Findings

There were some interesting findings in the report. This included that residents should receive an average 4.3 hours of care per day, which is a little more than one and a half times what they are currently being provided with which is 2.84 hours.

In terms of skills mix, the project report recommends a staff force should have a mix of 30% Registered Nurses, 20% Enrolled Nurses and 50% Personal Care Workers as a minimum to ensure safe residential care. The National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project was undertaken in conjunction with the ANMF’s South Australian Branch, the Flinders University Research Team and the University of South Australia.

ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas explained that, “the report’s findings reflect feedback from ANMF members working on the ground in aged care and is consistent with the stories from members about the increasing difficulty they experience in providing decent care to residents, many with dementia and other high-complex needs”.

Thomas has said the project was greatly needed as a result of the “monumental failure” of governments to establish any sort of evidence based staffing levels and skills mix in the aged care sector. “Whilst the number of people in residential aged care has nearly doubled from 134,810 in 1995 to 263,788 in 2014, consecutive governments have failed to legislate the minimum number of staff with necessary skills. As the report shows, missed care is a regular occurrence in residential aged care.”

By developing and undertaking such a project, the ANMF’s intention was to show the need to legislate minimum staffing levels and skills mix in residential care.

The report has since been provided to the Chair of the Senate Enquiry and recommendations from the Committee are expected to be in April 2017.

To read the full report National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project Report click here

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  1. I would love to see legislated ratio in aged care, however who is going to pay the Bill. The government wants to cut funding to 5% of their budget from 6% so they wont, the pensioner certainly wont be able to pay the cost. Can the people with the idea plant a money tree and harvest it on a daily basis please and send it to all aged care facilities to share out. The government learnt from ratio’s in acute care, careing costs money that they don’t have.

  2. I agree with disillusioned, we really need a legislated ratio in residential aged care, I see how hard especially carers work every day, there is just not enough staff for the work required each shift, residents are now entering facilities these days as high care, this puts more pressure on staff to complete daily tasks for our elderly residents.Staff are working so hard each shift its putting to much pressure and stress on them. One comment made in the article was, missed care was a regular occurrence in residential age care facilities, I believe this to be true, but you cannot put any blame on staff. Its about time our politicians started doing more, find away to increase funding not decrease it. Look at the benefits and salary our politicians receive, they live like kings and queens and travel in style while our elderly suffer.

    1. This is one of the most important things, I don’t work in aged care but have experience from having someone in aged care, grossly understaffed , I certainly don’t blame those at the coalface , you can only do so much, I would be interested to know what ratio nurses and PCA’S would think fair , I know of one facility who have 2 PCA’s and one nurse on night shift for 70 residents , it seems way too low to me , I imagine as well as people with dementia wandering around, bedridden residents have to be changed because or incontinence and also turned if they can’t turn themselves , I know they use chemical restraint for people with dementia ( far cheaper than staff) .
      Will spot checks be done during night shift ? If they are surely the people doing the checking will see for themselves how bead it is.

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