Draft details of RN exemption process released

Only small aged care homes in rural and remote areas of Australia can apply for a registered nurse exemption.

Only small aged care homes in rural and remote areas of Australia can apply for a registered nurse exemption.

That’s one of the stipulations contained in draft legislation and the accompanying explanatory document released by the office of the Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells.

From 1 July, every aged care home will be mandated to have an RN on site 24/7. However, a mechanism for RN exemptions for facilities unable to recruit a registered nurse has been drafted after some aged care providers voiced concerns they would have difficulties hiring them.

The exposure draft – which contains amendments to the Quality of Care Principles – states that facilities seeking an RN exemption must be located only in rural or remote areas of the country (categories MM 5 to 7 under the Modified Monash Model).

As well, sites must have no more than 30 operational places at the facility on the day of the decision – a decision made by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care. The secretary also decides the length of the exemption period, which must be no longer than 12 months.

Furthermore, the secretary must be satisfied that the provider has taken “reasonable steps” to ensure that residents’ clinical needs are met during the exemption period.

“These exemption criteria recognise the unique challenges faced by approved providers operating small facilities in small rural towns, remote communities and very remote communities to attract and retain registered nurses,” reads the document.

Grounds for revocation are also listed in the exposure draft. A provider’s exemption can be revoked if:

  • they breach a condition of the exemption
  • the clinical care needs of residents are not being met
  • the secretary becomes aware that the facility has more than 30 operational places.

RN reporting requirements

The document also explains a provider’s obligation to report to the secretary about RN activity in its aged care homes regardless of whether they have been given an exemption or not.

Providers will have to submit monthly reports to the department that include the following information:

  • the reason an RN was not on site or on duty during the period
  • what care was being provided to residents when an RN was not on site or on duty for 30 minutes or more
  • what alternative arrangements were made during the period to ensure the clinical needs of residents were met.

The reports must be received by the department within seven days after the end of the calendar month.

The requirement for all aged care homes to have an RN onsite 24/7 was a key recommendation of the royal commission and a component of the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill, which became law October last year.

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Tags: 24/7, Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill, registered nurse,

1 thought on “Draft details of RN exemption process released

  1. That’s a relief ! For a while there I thought we really needed RNs to do, you know, nursing stuff…turns out that only city people have complex care needs.
    Hang on…even the major cities cant get enough RNs. We’ve been kicking this down the road for at least 4 decades that I know of; we tried importing UK nurses in the 80’s (but they only worked for 6 months then went traveling for the next 6)
    We cant fix the chronic RN shortage by importing them (Although it is quite an effective way to lower our standards), So why not try something different. Maybe increase the course availability and waive the cost of a nursing degree if you work in the system for 3 or 5 years after you graduate? Surely all those clever clogs in policy can come up with something better than just lowering the English test pass mark?
    What are we supposed to …just pluck RNs from our derrieres? Legislate that!

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