Sep 21, 2020

Victorian premier says staff ratios could have saved aged care during pandemic


The Victorian premier has weighed in to the debate about aged care staffing numbers, suggesting the federal government could have done more to prevent outbreaks in aged care facilities if it had implemented mandatory staff ratios in aged care homes.

In a press conference this morning, premier Daniel Andrews said his government is limited in what it can do in aged care, because the sector is funded and regulated by the federal government.

There have been almost 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among aged care residents in Victoria since January, including over 600 deaths.

Despite the crisis, Mr Andrews said he is still hearing of casual staff working across multiple facilities.

But he said there is little his government can do to stop this from occurring, other than providing financial support for casual workers required to test and self-isolate.

Mr Andrews said the federal government could have done more to ensure private aged care facilities were better prepared for COVID-19 outbreaks.

“There’s a lot of things we could do, we could have nurse-to-patient ratios like we do in public aged care, but I do not have the power to do that,” the premier said.

Aged care homes across most of Australia do not have mandated staffing ratios, it is instead left to providers to determine what they believe to be the most appropriate staffing levels. 

However, aged care staff ratios are mandated in Queensland and Victoria.

In public aged care homes in Victoria, there must be one nurse for every seven residents in the morning, one for every eight in the afternoon, and one nurse for every 15 residents at night.

A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association released last month, showed that in 4,255 aged care homes across eight states in the United States, those with more nurses had fewer cases of COVID-19.


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