Urgent aged care staffing reforms must go ahead

Urgent aged care staffing reforms must go ahead

A Royal Commission into aged care services mustn’t put the brakes on urgent reforms in the sector, including greater transparency around staffing ratios, the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.

“I welcome Prime Minister Morrison’s announcement about the Royal Commission but this investigation must not be used as an excuse to delay much-needed changes to the sector,” Rebekha said.

“We need to act quickly to address our community’s very real concerns about understaffing and the low (sometimes non-existent) number of registered nurses in our aged care facilities as well as poor training and retention rates for aged care workers.

"The Government also needs to act to address the ballooning waiting list for higher needs home care packages.

"One of my constituents, who recently reached his 100th birthday, had to wait nearly 12 months after being assessed to receive a higher care home care package. That's just outrageous.

“If the aim is to keep our older citizens in their own homes as long as possible, then we are failing this ambition if we have more than 100,000 older Australians on the waiting list.”

In August, as soon as possible after her by-election win, Rebekha introduced a Private Member’s Bill to require aged care providers to publish their staff-to-resident ratios by job description on the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website.

Last week Parliament announced that Rebekha's Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 would be investigated by the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport.

“My legislation is an important first step in addressing community concerns about staffing ratios in our nursing homes,” Rebekha said.

“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 has also met with the Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and the Opposition Spokesperson for Aged Care Julie Collins to discuss her Bill.

“I received a good hearing from the Minister and the Shadow Minister regarding my legislation,” Rebekha said.

“We all believe transparency is the way forward and we will use the inquiry process to look at the Bill in detail.

“What I am concerned about is that the Royal Commission might be used as an excuse to delay any recommendations from this inquiry and other inquiries into the aged care sector.”

The public can make submissions to the inquiry. Details are here.