MP backs call for staffing ratios in aged care sector

MP backs call for staffing ratios in aged care sector

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is backing a call for staffing ratios in the aged care sector that has emerged from today's hearing of the Royal Commision into Aged Care Quality and Safety held in Adelaide.

"I fully support the recommendations outlined today by Mr Peter Rozen QC, the Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, especially the call for legally enforceable staffing ratios and making it mandatory to have a registered nurse on every shift," Rebekha said today.

"The Government has been kicking the can down the road for too long when it comes to the aged care workforce. The time for real action to address low staffing levels is now.

“I introduced my Private Member's Bill calling for transparency in staffing ratios back in August 2018 and I introduced it again in July 2019. 

"A Government-led committee that reviewed the bill even recommended that the legislation be passed, but here we are, over 12 months later, and the Government still hasn’t acted.

"Waiting for the Royal Commission to be done and dusted before bringing about change is delaying the inevitable.

“I acknowledge that staffing ratios alone will not fix all quality of care issues but I am calling on the Government to show what Mr Rozen QC today called ‘practical leadership’ to address issues in how we fund aged care, how we treat our aged care workforce and what level of governance we expect from our aged care providers."

Today's hearing in Adelaide focussed on the future of the aged care workforce, inquiring into staffing numbers and the mix, terms and conditions of employment, workforce planning and the role of the Commonwealth, education and training of the workforce and registration of personal care workers.

The five recommendations outlined at the Adelaide hearing by Mr Rozen QC relevant to the aged care workforce were:

  1. The introduction of a legally enforceable mandatory minimum staffing ratio for residential aged care facilities.
  2. A minimum number of care hours per resident of between 186 minutes and 265 minutes.
  3. A minimum of 30 minutes of care time by a Registered Nurse per resident per day.
  4. A minimum of 22 minutes of care time by allied health professionals per resident per day.
  5. A mandatory minimum staffing requirement of at least 1 registered nurse on shift at all times.

In his submission today, Mr Rozen stated that while a number of factors determined what quality care meant, the Royal Commission had consistently heard evidence that substandard care was linked to staff shortages.