Aged Care Bill puts staffing on the record

Aged Care Bill puts staffing on the record

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has today fulfilled her by-election promise to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to mandate the publication of staff-to-resident ratios by job description on the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website.

The Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 aims to provide greater transparency for families moving loved ones into residential care so they can make more informed choices about the facilities they consider.

“I have the oldest electorate in South Australia and the eighth oldest in the country so aged care is an important issue for my community, and they are deeply concerned that many facilities do not have enough staff with the right qualifications to care for residents,” Rebekha said.

“When I have an elderly man in tears in my office because his wife nearly choked to death in a residential care facility because he couldn’t find a staff member to help, then there is something wrong with the current system.

“My community certainly made sure to raise their concerns about staffing ratios with the Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt during his visit to our region in May.

“The Minister and the aged care sector are reluctant to set a minimum staffing level in case it sets the bar too low to meet the quality of care standards.

“I’m not wholly convinced of that argument. However, I believe my Bill is a pragmatic step forward that will make residential facilities be upfront about their staffing.

“I strongly urge the Government to support the referral of this Bill to an inquiry.”

The Bill would require providers to publish full-time equivalent staffing ratios by qualification category on the My Aged Care website every quarter.

If any of these ratios change by more than 10%, the aged care provider must also notify the Government, within 28 days.

The categories of qualifications include registered nurses; enrolled nurses; nurses with a Certificate IV or equivalent qualification; personal care attendants; allied health staff; and other staff members.

“I recognise that different facilities have a different composition of residents who have different care needs,” Rebekha said.

“That’s why the Bill allows providers to add a short written statement to their published staffing ratio disclosures so they can explain the context of their staffing mix.

“Centre Alliance is all about transparency in government and public policy and we believe that mandating the publication of staffing ratios will empower our community to make informed choices.

“Besides giving families peace of mind, it will also create a more competitive market where residential aged care services can more easily attract people through the greater quality of their service.”

You can listen to Rebekha's speech in Parliament here and read the full text of the Private Member’s Bill here.

The Bill has the support of a number of industry groups including the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia.