RN minutes falling short

Aged care providers are continuing to fall short of the mandatory minutes of care residents should be receiving from registered nurses, new analysis shows..

Aged care providers are continuing to fall short of the mandatory minutes of care residents should be receiving from registered nurses, new analysis shows.

Published by aged care consultancy firm Mirus Australia – and based on a data sample of 90,000 beds (or one-third of the entire residential aged care sector) – the report shows, during October, providers reached an average of 34 minutes of RN time, six minutes less than the mandatory 40 minutes. These finding are consistent with September’s figures.

Robert Covino

“There is still some work to be made with challenges on the RN cohort,” Mirus Australia co-founder Robert Covino told Australian Ageing Agenda. “There is more room to move with skilled nursing staff which has been a trend across the sector as they have been the hardest resource to acquire.”

In better news, operators are more than meeting the mandatory 200 minutes of care time residents are required to receive. Mirus Australia data shows, on average, residents are receiving 209 minutes of care – an increase of almost 5 per cent on the previous month.

“The good news is that the sector is working towards and achieving the care minute target at a total direct care time,” said Mr Covino. “The sector has come a long way from the beginning of care minute allocations, so this is a positive achievement and movement.”

Source: Mirus Australia

As the sector currently has the potential to attain a three-star outcome by either falling short of RN direct care time or surpassing expectations in direct care time, Mr Covino told AAA it will be intriguing to observe how this dynamic evolves leading up to April next year.

“The Department of Health [and Aged Care] has signalled a shift in the criteria, specifying that achieving a three-star rating will require meeting targets for both direct care minutes and RN minutes.”

He added: “This impending change adds an interesting dimension to the evaluation process and merits close attention in the coming months.”

With the heightened scrutiny on care minutes – driven by the 1 October mandate – Mr Covino said providers are faced with a challenge to their traditional approaches to funding management.

“Historically, the industry’s focus has been on optimising and maximising care entitlement subsidies to bolster organisational support. However, the introduction of the [Australian National Aged Care Classification] aims to address this dynamic.”

The report shows the average daily subsidy providers received through AN-ACC indicates “a discernible uptick” – which say the authors – “serves as a mitigating factor against supplementary costs incurred by the escalation in care minutes.”

Mr Covino told AAA, providers must now reconsider their strategies for managing subsidy entitlements and available care minutes in tandem.

“This entails a shift in mindset, as they need to account for re-enabling consumers through reclassification requests, aiming to reduce both funding and time requirements where applicable,” he said. “This departure from conventional practices poses a new challenge for funding teams, requiring them to adapt to ensure compliant and sustainable operations under the AN-ACC framework.”

Allied health minutes halved

Elsewhere, the report shows a more than 50 per cent decrease to just over 4 minutes in the time assigned to allied health workers during October.

“Some providers may adopt allied health patterns that do not align consistently with their weekly work schedules,” Mr Covino told AAA. “Consequently – depending on a provider’s monthly allied health team’s roster patterns – there can be fluctuations based on the specific days of the week when these teams are operational within the reported month, this can fluctuate the monthly reporting numbers.”

Dr Chris Atmore

In response, Dr Chris Atmore – manager, policy and advocacy at national peak Allied Health Professions Australia – said the Mirus data is not an outlier. “The most recent Quarterly Financial Snapshot figure is 4.55 minutes per day. The impacts on the allied health workforce in residential aged care tell a similar story.”

Speaking to AAA, Dr Atmore said the essential problem is that there is no mechanism to ensure that older people’s allied health needs are met. “Unlike nursing and personal care, there are no mandatory direct care minutes for provision of allied health, and no clear enforced standards to ensure that people get both the right amount and the appropriate types of professional allied health services that they are assessed to need.”

Comment on the story below. Do you have an opinion to share about an issue or something topical in the aged care sector? Get in touch at editorial@australianageingagenda.com.au

Tags: care minutes, featured, mirus australia, Robert Covino,

3 thoughts on “RN minutes falling short

  1. Hard to believe we still don’t have Aged Care sorted by now.
    I find it’s ridiculous and unacceptable that we ‘measure’ and allocate Nursing and Clinical care in minutes.
    I also think it’s wrong that Physio and other Allied Health services have been drastically reduced or eliminated all together for Aged Care facility Residents.

  2. They need to allow the EN to transition to RN restricted to aged care settings and this will increase the nurses needed in aged care

    also pay nurses appropriately at least to draw them to the industry.

  3. “Sorry, but I’m unable to help you right now…you’ve exceeded the allocated minutes that were determined by someone who has never met you and has no idea about the care you require.”
    Is this really what ‘reform’ looks like?
    Aged care is forever doomed, thanks to inept bureaucratic intervention

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