Providers gearing up for care minutes deadline

With October approaching, aged care providers have adopted a number of initiatives to ensure they meet the incoming care minutes target.

With October approaching, aged care providers have adopted a number of initiatives to ensure they meet the incoming care minutes target.

From 1 October aged care homes will be required to provide an average of 200 minutes of care per resident per day – including 40 minutes of care from a registered nurse.

The policy comes into play a year on from the Albanese Government’s inaugural budget in which it committed $2.5 billion over four years through the new Australian National Aged Care Classification funding model for the care minutes policy and around-the-clock nurses.

While providers have largely embraced the care minute target, in the face of workforce shortages, many have also voiced concerns over how they will staff the mandatory minutes.

The significant shortfall in supply of RNs is widely acknowledged as an issue across the aged care sector, and for providers like Southern Cross Care Queensland – which operates in rural and remote locations – there are several additional challenges.

Michael Wild

However, SCCQ chief operating officer Michael Wild told Australian Ageing Agenda they have undertaken a number of measures to ensure the care minutes are covered.

“While workforce supply is an ongoing challenge that we face in rural and remote communities, Southern Cross Care Queensland has implemented a range of initiatives to build and sustain an aged care workforce,” said Mr Wild.

For example, SCCQ has made great efforts to support its homes in the Western Downs region of Queensland – 350 kilometres west of Brisbane. And those efforts have paid off, said Mr Wild. “We recently recruited a nurse practitioner who forms part of our aged care specialist team to support our rural and remote residents.”

Mr Wild told AAA that SCCQ has also begun redeveloping and expanding its Illoura Village facility in Chinchilla – a key component of which is a new education and training hub operated by Southern Queensland Rural Health.

“It is a fantastic collaboration that will provide additional training opportunities in this regional community, as well as supporting the creation of a pipeline of care workers for our homes in the Western Downs region.”

As well, in June this year, SCCQ recruited workers from Papua New Guinea under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme.

“Adding to our workforce in rural and remote communities with warm and caring staff from PNG has been wonderful for our residents,” said Mr Wild, “and we are excited by the possibility of the program allowing us to recruit more staff in future.”

Mr Wild told AAA that, as a result of these initiatives, SCCQ has been able to increase its care minutes considerably.

“We are committed to ensuring those in our aged care homes receive the care and individual attention they need and are tackling the challenges being faced by all providers in the aged care sector with an innovative approach and mindset that put our people at its centre.”

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Rami Kamel

Also speaking to AAA, Rami Kamel – general manager of operations at Victorian provider Ryman Healthcare Australia – said Ryman had already exceeded the 200-care minute requirement “with some villages providing more than 235 minutes of care per resident per day.”

This is made by possible, said Mr Kamel, by Ryman adopting a continuum of care model, which integrates independent retirement living, assisted living, and aged care services.

“This approach allows us to share resources and efficiencies across the whole village, which means we can afford to provide more care to our residents without compromising on quality.”

“That’s in contrast with most standalone aged care operators,” added Mr Kamel, “who continue to struggle with these increasing regulatory requirements and their financial capacity to provide the same level of care.”

Nick Hansen

Meanwhile, Nick Hansen – chief operating officer, aged & community services at Anglicare Southern Queensland – told AAA the provider – which operates eight residential care homes across the region – was optimistic that it would meet the care minutes requirement ahead of the 1 October deadline.

“Anglicare is performing well, with four homes already meeting or exceeding care minute targets,” he said. “In our other homes, we are seeing the variance between rostered hours and care minute targets improve each fortnight.”

He added: “Based on the success of our recruitment and retention strategies, all our homes are projected to meet care minute targets by mid-September, including homes located in regional Queensland.”

Mr Hansen said this is being achieved through flexible rostering. “We are also in the process of implementing a new rostering software tool which integrates care minute targets to improve roster agility.”

Mr Hansen told AAA that a new recruitment campaign launched in March had also proved effective – “The level of interest from the community has doubled.”

Like SCCQ, Anglicare SQ has also participated in the PALM scheme. “And the feedback has been very positive,” said Mr Hansen. “It means we can continue to deliver high-quality care to more than 800 residents in Queensland.”

Anglicare SQ is also hopeful that improved pay will further bolster its workforce. “We welcome the recent wage increase for aged care workers, which we have passed on to all the eligible employees,” said Mr Hansen. “Our team are our most valuable asset and Anglicare Southern Queensland pays above award wage for all eligible aged care positions.”

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Tags: Anglicare Southern Queensland, care minutes, featured, Michael Wild, Nuck Hansen, Rami Kamel, ryman healthcare, Southern Cross Care Queensland,

2 thoughts on “Providers gearing up for care minutes deadline

  1. A great story however what it doesn’t show is that some services are either decreasing leisure and lifestyle hours/ roles or multiskilling workers to achieve these care minutes. This then increases work load pressure on staff, creates rushed service and does not allow for appropriate leisure activities , outings, connection to communities or meaning leisure engagement as it is a after thought or fits in just before lunch or from 2-3 pm before day shift end. This is not meeting quality care principles or standards and will in effect most probably lead to increased isolation, behaviours and falls as residents are not meaningfully engaged by appropriately trained staff.

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