The future of nursing home staffing ratios

Article published 6 April 2022

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THE Government is introducing a new funding system for nursing home care.

The old system known as ACFI (pronounced ‘ack-fee’) pays nursing homes an average of $202 per day per resident.

The new system known as AN-ACC (pronounced ‘annack’) will up that average to $225 per day per resident.

The Aged Care Royal Commission found that Australian nursing homes provided an average 180 minutes, or three hours, of care per day per resident. Noting that four hours of care would be needed to provide good care, the Royal Commission recommended a minimum of 200 minutes, enough for no-frills, no-extras nursing home care.

The Government accepted this recommendation.

The Government also accepted a recommendation for a new Pricing Authority to increase the pay rate of care workers, from personal care workers to registered nurses.

So, what the Government is putting forward is an extra $23 for 20 minutes of additional care. That might be enough to get to 200 minutes if staff pay rates remain unchanged, but obviously not if they get a well-deserved and significant raise.

The Government can point to the fact that the new Pricing Authority has yet to be set up, so it can’t do anything right now. True, but there is a case in the Fair Work Commission in which the unions are demanding a 25 per cent wage increase for aged care workers.

Yet, the Government made no provision in its budget last month for any pay increase at all. This is in the face of staff shortages in nursing homes so severe that several homes have closed, and others have brought in serving soldiers to fill the void.

Given that most of aged care staff wages are paid from Government subsidies to nursing homes, it could be that if a wage increase is achieved, it will be at the expense of those 200 minutes, the minimum which the Royal Commission said is required.

AN-ACC will start in October this year.

Also read:

Cost-of-Living Measures: what they mean in detail

Killing two birds with one stone: the flu and COVID-19

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