Aged care providers should have to meet mandatory minimum staffing requirements including a registered nurse on site at all times and more RNs and nurse practitioners overall.

Aged care workers need more training and better remuneration and unregulated workers should be subject to registration with minimum qualifications.

These are among recommendations made by Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Rozen in a submission focused on residential aged care to the royal commissioners at a hearing in Adelaide on Friday.

Peter Rozen

Mr Rozen said the community owed aged care workers a lot.

“These submissions are aimed at improving their working lives so that our elderly citizens can receive safe care of the quality that they should receive in a country as rich as ours,” Mr Rozen told the hearing.

He said their submissions were informed by the following principles:

  • an approved provider of residential aged care services should have to meet mandatory minimum staffing requirements
  • registered nurses, including nurse practitioners should make up a greater proportion of the care workforce than is presently the case
  • all aged care workers should receive better training
  • unregulated care workers should be subject to a registration process with a minimum mandatory qualification as an entry requirement
  • the care workforce should be better remunerated and should work in safe workplaces
  • the organisations for which they work should be better managed and governed
  • the Australian government should provide practical leadership.

“We submit that, if the goal of this royal commission is to make recommendations to achieve high quality, safe and person-centred aged care services, as it must be as it must be under the terms of reference, then the time for real action on staffing numbers and mix, skill levels, remuneration, conditions of work and registration of the unregulated portion of the aged care workforce is now,” Mr Rozen said.

The implementation of the proposed recommendations as a holistic package would eventually make aged care a more attractive sector to work in, he said.

“This will help to retain the current workforce and attract new workers to the sector.”

Mr Rozen said council assisting the royal commission endorsed a proposed recommendation to the royal commission that the Australian Government should at a minimum mandate that an RN be on-site and available at all times in residential aged care.

“While we recognise that the evidence shows that residential aged care is best provided by multi-disciplinary teams involving a range of medical professionals including doctors, nurse practitioners, allied health practitioners and others, we submit that for too long the role of nurses, especially registered nurses, has been downplayed in our aged care system.

“We submit that this is one of the mistakes of the past that must be confronted if the aged care system is to provide high quality and safe care in the future…”

More to come.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s hard to argue against any of the dot points above. All Mr Rozen needs to figure out now is how to fund the additional billions it will cost.

  2. A few things from my perspective.

    We have Cert 3 resumes coming in every day, we have RNs looking for work.
    Residential Care workers ARE RESPECTED AND VALUED by those involved.

    The training is set by the government presently and education is ongoing. It’s part of the Standards.

    More money doesn’t automatically mean a better outcome. I’d say on the contrary, people presently working in aged care are caring and passionate individuals who enjoy their work.

    You can’t buy respect nor can you demand it. It comes to those deserving.

    Staffing levels are attached to ACFI, for the public that don’t know how the system works an advertised number of staff will only confuse. Residents with high care needs attract more care hours than someone that basically needs comfort.
    A number in a website is simplistic and ill-conceived.

    How about some funding so facilities will be open in the future instead.

  3. I have worked for a group that has always have registered nurses, x3 for 55 residents, which includes Clinical Co-ordination, then Senior nurse at night. This makes a huge difference to care.
    What astounds me is that their rate of pay is up to $10 per hour less than their counterparts in hospitals. Why is the work they undertake diminished? Why do some nurses in hospitals seem to think that nurses in aged care provide below par care? Nothing could be further from the truth. There are ongoing daily reports, then monthly bench marking reports, managing care staff, ongoing care for people with complex health needs, provide palliative care, ongoing dealings with family (not all are respectful), medication and wound care rounds, etc etc. the list goes on and on.
    I am seeing that due to the lack of enticing nurses we now see more student nurses working at a higher level without mentoring processes in place and then burn out. Great to say we need more nurses but majority are now overseas resourced. Lovely lovely people and caring but they need good mentoring processes in place.
    No I am not a nurse but a Diversional therapist who enjoys a working with my nursing colleagues who are supportive of what I also bring.

  4. Lovely plans from the lawyers, and all well intentioned, thankfully Royal Commissions keep a lot of lawyers in employment, but yes as above, lots of issues to work on to achieve the dot points. We must be able to pay for all this, the consumers and their families waiting for the inheritance cheque are not happy now, and the taxpayers are sitting scared as there will be less of us in ten years time as the baby boomers hit the highways. How to attract nurses into aged care is and will be a major problem without better pay and incentives. I deal with large numbers of nursing students on placement across hospitals and it is very rare for someone to be interested in aged care, often they say they will do it to pay the bills until a hospital spot comes up. It should not be like that.

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