Baird Government removes RN requirement, refers concerns to COAG

The NSW Government has decided against retaining the state’s legislation that requires a registered nurse on duty at all times in nursing homes, bringing to an end a debate that has been running for almost two years.

The NSW Government has decided against retaining the state’s legislation that requires a registered nurse on duty at all times in a high care aged care facility, bringing to an end a debate that has been running for almost two years.

In its response to the findings of a NSW parliamentary inquiry into RNs in nursing homes, the State Government said that as aged care was federally regulated under national legislation, retaining and expanding the state law would amount to duplication.

The parliamentary inquiry was prompted by the impact of removing the high care/low care distinction in the federal Aged Care Act on existing NSW legislation, which required a registered nurse be in charge and on duty at all times in a high care facility. NSW was the only state in Australia with such a requirement.

The parliamentary inquiry report, handed down last November, not only called on the State Government to maintain the NSW legislative requirement for RNs, but found the national regulatory framework governing aged care was not prescriptive enough on staffing. It called for new measures including staff-to-resident ratios and licensing of personal care workers.

In its response to the report, released on Friday, the NSW Government said that adopting the recommendations would mean extending the RN requirement to facilities that were not previously caught by it.

However, the NSW Government said it recognised the wide range of concerns about the regulatory framework overseeing aged care, put forward by various stakeholders in evidence to the inquiry, and it would raise those concerns through the COAG health council.

Among the recommendations to be referred to COAG was for aged care facilities to detail their staffing levels and skills mix on the My Aged Care website.

Stakeholders react

Loula Koutrodimos, acting CEO of Leading Age Services Australia NSW-ACT, said the response by the State Government was “sensible, responsible, and supports quality person-centred residential aged care services.”

Quality services, with a focus on individual care needs, should not be delivered in a regulatory environment with competing commonwealth and state legislation, she said.

“Issues about aged care regulation, funding, accreditation, and compliance should be addressed through the Commonwealth,” Ms Koutrodimos said.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) said it condemned the NSW Government decision, which would “leave thousands of vulnerable elderly people in the sole care of unregulated workers and result in unnecessary trips to emergency departments to receive nursing care.”

“The NSWNMA will continue to campaign against the implementation of legislation changes and call on members of the upper house of the NSW Parliament to do everything within their power to stand up for the rights of the elderly in NSW,” the union said.

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Tags: Leading Age Services Australia NSW-ACT, Loula Koutrodimos, NSWNMA, nurses-union,

2 thoughts on “Baird Government removes RN requirement, refers concerns to COAG

  1. Of course LASA supports this disappointing decision; they only represent providers’ interests. Good luck elderly Australians…you’re on your own.

    LASA’s conviction that ‘quality services should not be delivered in a regulatory environment’ facilitates a race to the bottom. Past performance would indicate that, left to their own devices, aged care providers cannot be trusted to do the right thing. If it’s all going swimmingly, why are they so afraid of scrutiny and high standards?

    Stating that this decision ‘supports person centred residential aged care’ is hollow and cliche. Can you please explain exactly how removing RNs will support resident care?

    I didn’t think so.

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