Expand RN exemptions, says provider peak

ACCPA is calling for changes to legislation mandating registered nurses around the clock in residential aged care due to worker shortages.

The peak body for the aged care sector has proposed amendments to the legislation mandating facilities have registered nurses onsite 24/7.

From 1 July, every aged care home will have to have an RN on the premises day and night. However, exemptions will exist for facilities located in rural or remote areas of the country (categories MM5-MM7 under the Modified Monash Model), and for sites with fewer than 30 beds, according to the draft legislation released last month.

In a subsequent submission to government, Aged and Community Care Providers Association proposes that the exemption rules be expanded to include facilities in regional centres and large rural towns – MM2-MM4 – and sites with more than 30 beds “if they are in areas of workforce shortage.”

Tom Symondson

“We have proposed amendments to this legislation which we believe represent a common-sense approach intended to make it clearer for aged care providers on how they can meet this requirement while recognising the realities of nursing workforce shortages across Australia,” said ACCPA CEO Tom Symondson.

ACCPA’s proposal follows an admission by Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells that the sector will be short of thousands of RNs come 1 July.

“I acknowledge we are thousands short,” said Ms Wells in an ABC interview. “That is something we have inherited, and we are pulling every lever to address,” she added.  

“We welcome the Minister for Aged Care’s acknowledgement that some providers will not meet the 1 July deadline to have RNs onsite 24/7 and we want to work with the government to ensure residents continue to receive quality care,” said Mr Symondson.

He added: “Eighty per cent of aged care providers already have RNs 24/7, and many more are close to achieving the target. However, the persistent workforce shortages in aged care – made more severe by Covid – mean some providers will struggle to find enough staff by 1 July.”

ACCPA’s submission contains other measures to increase workforce supply, including:

  • incentives to upskill aged care workers
  • tax breaks to encourage training uptake
  • pay parity across Australia
  • a specific visa for migrants willing to work in aged care.

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, ACCPA, anika wells, featured, rns, Tom Symondson,

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