Sector hits care minute threshold, report shows

However, there was a sector average shortfall of RN time.

For the first time, the residential aged care sector met the mandatory care minutes target, government statistics show.

Released this week by the Department of Health and Aged Care, the Quarterly Financial Snapshot for October to December 2023 records the sector delivering an average of 201.93 care minutes a day.

Department of Health and Aged Care

However, the registered nurse target of 40 minutes of care per resident per day was missed during the period with homes, on average, providing 38.76 minutes of RN care.

As the report’s authors note: “significant improvements are required to ensure individual services are compliant with their mandatory care minute responsibilities, and to reach a sector average of 40 registered nurse care minutes.”

While acknowledging that, overall, the sector delivered more than 200 care minutes during the quarter – the first since the mandatory requirement began on 1 October ’23 – the report’s authors say “there is still an average shortfall of 1.24 registered nurse minutes to achieve the sector target of 40 registered nurse minutes.”

As the report shows, on average, not-for-profit providers delivered above the mandatory target, averaging 204.98 care minutes a day. For-profit providers came in under, reaching an average of 194.98 care minutes per resident per day.

Department of Health and Aged Care

Whilst the sector hit an average care minutes score of 201.93, a large percentage of providers are still falling short of the mandatory target. There is, say the report’s authors “a significant majority of services that are not delivering either or both of their required total, and/or registered nursing care minutes.” Indeed, as the report reveals, only 52.3 per cent of providers met their total care minutes target, and 46.6 per cent met their RN targets.

“As care minutes are mandatory, and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is monitoring and engaging with those services not delivering their care minutes, it is expected that care minutes delivery will increase in the coming quarters,” say the report’s  authors.

Elsewhere, the October-December 2023 financial snapshot shows profits for residential aged care providers down from the previous reporting period.

During quarter two, providers made a net profit before tax of $8.75 – a drop of $1.61 compared to quarter one which recorded $10.36.

As the report’s authors note: “This is likely attributed to providers’ expenses increasing due to the increase in overall care minutes.” They add: “It is expected that expenses will continue to increase over the next two quarters as providers continue to increase their care minutes to meet their mandatory targets.”

While $8.75 was slightly down on Q1, slightly more providers reached a net profit than July to September – 64.6 per cent compared to 64.4 per cent.

For-profit providers reported stronger financial results (70.9 per cent) than not-for-profits (61.1 per cent). “This is likely, in some cases, driven by for-profit sector delivering less care minutes,” say the report’s authors.

Department of Health and Aged Care

During the period, home care providers recorded a net profit before tax of $5.29 per care recipient per day – up by $1.70 on the year before but down slightly on the previous quarter ($5.68).

The percentage of profitable home care providers year-to-date rose by 2.1 percentage points reaching 75.9 per cent – up on the previous quarter (73.8 per cent).

Department of Health and Aged Care

Providers saw revenue increase by $3.81 year-to-date reaching $72.29 per care recipient per day. The rise in revenue was, say the report’s authors, “primarily the result of the increase in subsidies for Home Care Packages as result of the [Fair Work Commission’s] decision for an interim increase to minimum award rates of 15 per cent from 30 June 2023 in the aged care work value case.”

Expenses also increased during the period, which was, say the report’s authors, “mostly due to higher wage costs to deliver services that correlate with changes to award wages.”

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Tags: care minutes, Quarterly Financial Snapshot October to December 2023,

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