Act now on aged care staffing transparency

Act now on aged care staffing transparency

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie says the Government can act quickly to address some of the “Neglect” highlighted in the title of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Interim Report released yesterday

“I call on the Government to take on board my Private Member’s Bill to require aged care facilities to make their staffing ratios and staffing qualifications public,” Rebekha said.

“Let’s point out the elephant in the room here. We don’t have enough people with the right skills caring for our vulnerable elderly.

“We can take a step towards addressing that by introducing transparency into this competitive industry.

“When you get anywhere between 40 and 70 per cent of expenditure allocated for staffing by different operators, this results in very different levels of care in individual facilities.

“My legislation is a pragmatic step forward that will make residential facilities be upfront about their staffing levels.

“Requiring aged care providers to publish their staff-to-resident ratios by job description on the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website will assist people to make more informed choices when they investigate facilities for themselves or their loved ones.

“It is not the only way to increase transparency in this sector, but given that the industry has consistently resisted transparency when it comes to staffing numbers and qualifications, I do believe it will help and it is a step that can be implemented now.”

Rebekha first introduced her Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill in the 45th Parliament where it secured the approval of the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport and an endorsement from the then Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt.

The Bill was then reintroduced into the new Parliament with Rebekha writing to the Prime Minister to request that his Government adopt the legislation.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Interim Report, entitled Neglect, was released on Thursday.

The report covers some but not all of the work of the Commissioners and has called for reform in aged care system.

In the section on work force matters, the report said:  

“Witnesses have given evidence of the impact of inadequate staff on people in aged care. Basic standards are often not met. For care workers, inadequate staffing levels mean that they are overworked, rushed and generally under pressure.

“The evidence suggests that the adequacy and consistency of staffing is an underlying cause of these pressures and a barrier to the capacity of workers to deliver person-centred care.

“A number of witnesses have argued forcefully for the introduction of mandated staffing levels and skill mix to guarantee a minimum level of care.

“Other witnesses have raised concerns about the possible risks of staff ratios, including that of themselves ratios do not guarantee quality, or suggested alternative means to ensure adequate staffing levels would be more effective.

“Our Final Report will give close consideration to options to ensure staffing levels, and the mix of staffing, are sufficient to ensure quality and safe care.

“Services must have the right number of staff with the right skill mix, with compassion and empathy combined with knowledge of aged care and the illnesses and conditions of those in care. These are critical factors in delivering high quality and safe care to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”