Five Billion Reasons for Mandated Staff Ratios

Article published 18 October 2018

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The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has joined the mandatory-staff-to-residents-ratio camp.

“The Royal Commission into aged care must consider the case for a regulated registered-nurse-to-resident ratio that is sufficiently flexible and adapts to the specific needs of the residents in each aged care facility”, AMA President Dr Tony Bartone, said.

The Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation (ANMF) is also pushing for staffing ratios to be legislated. The ANMF wants to increase minimum care time for each resident by about a third, from two hours and 50 minutes a day to four hours and 18 minutes. The ANMF is also pushing for a staffing mix of 30 per cent registered nurses, 20 per cent enrolled nurses and 50 per cent personal carers. Currently personal carers make up more than 70 per cent of staff.

The Aged Care Guild commissioned a report which found that the ANMF’s proposal to boost staff care hours would equate to an extra $25,000 in costs per resident or $4.9 billion after accounting for penalty rates.

The Aged Care Guild represents the nine largest residential aged care for-profit providers, and in keeping with their profit focus they said that their analysis indicates mandated staffing ratios could worsen the sector’s viability at a time when its profitability is already expected to deteriorate significantly.

The Aged Care Guild is entirely silent on what mandated staffing ratios might do for nursing home residents and the quality of care provided to them. It just shows why no one should go into a for-profit nursing home if they can help it. You won’t be a resident but a profit-centre.

The Government-appointed Workforce Strategy Taskforce in its report put the cost of mandated staff ratios at $19,379. To the dollar! The overall cost would be around $4 billion.

The Taskforce excluded union and consumer group representation, but had plenty of providers on it. Maybe that is the reason that instead of ratios, the Taskforce wanted the industry to “address staff underutilisation, such as unplanned vacancies and absenteeism.”

Unplanned vacancies and absenteeism to the tune of $4 billion a year?

C’mon guys, it’s time to get real!

The point is this.

If it costs $4 or $5 billion more to provide proper care to nursing home residents, then so be it.

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