Pensioners want Government action on mandatory nursing home staffing levels now

Article published 27 February 2020

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“Pensioners call on the Australian Government to act immediately to fix the crisis in nursing home staffing following the recommendations of Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety”, CPSA Policy Manager Paul Versteege said.

“People are dying in nursing homes because of lack of staff and a 24/7 presence of registered nurses. It’s now abundantly clear that most of the mess called residential aged care in Australia is down to lack of staffing and lack of qualified staff.

“Even aged care provider peak organisations support the introduction of mandatory staffing levels in nursing homes now.

“The submission by Counsel Assisting clearly identifies the need for minimum staff-to-resident ratios, 24/7 nurse availability, and mandatory minimum qualifications for personal care workers.

“CPSA has long been calling for these measures. We cannot wait until the Royal Commission concludes in November this year to address this crisis.

“The proportion of nurses in residential aged care facilities has declined significantly, while older people’s clinical needs are only increasing. This development must be reversed immediately.

“Australians expect their aged care system to be staffed appropriately, so that older Australians receive the high quality care that they deserve.

“More than half (57.6 per cent) of Australian residents currently receive care in aged care homes that have unacceptable levels of staffing, rated 1 and 2 stars by Counsel Assisting.

“Only 15.8 per cent nursing home residents get four star care (considered to denote good practice).

“25.2 per cent of residents (a quarter) receive acceptable 3-star care.

“Only 1.4 per cent of residents get 5-star care (best practice).

“For all residents to receive at least four stars would require an overall increase of 37.2 per cent in total care staffing.

“The current average care time per resident per day in Australian residential aged care facilities is 180 minutes, including 36 minutes of registered nurse care time.

“To achieve the four-star rating, Australian facilities would need to deliver a minimum of 242 minutes of care.

“Australia spends an estimated 1.2 per cent of GDP on aged care and that is among the lowest of a group of twenty-two comparable countries which spend an average of 2.5 per cent of GDP”, said Versteege.

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