Submission to Inquiry into the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport

Publication published 24 September 2018

Submission to Inquiry into the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport

Prospective residents and the families of prospective residents need information on which to base their choice of residential aged care facility other than the information on provider websites, the uninformative assessment reports published by the Aged Care Quality Agency and slick talk of provider sales reps.

The number of staff and their qualifications largely determine the quality of care at residential aged care facilities. It is therefore a no-brainer that providers should make this information available. In fact, providers with nothing to hide do disclose this type of information to people looking for themselves or a friend or relative.

It is the providers who do not disclose publicly information about staffing in their facilities that are the real targets in the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018.

The residential aged care sector is claiming that staffing ratio disclosure is complex, by which it presumably means: too complex.

This is simply not true. There is nothing complex for hours of care provided to be totalled, classified according to staff qualification and according to the type of care provided and for ratios to be calculated.

If this is done for each of the roughly 3,000 residential aged care facilities in Australia, a picture will emerge of relative provider performance in the area of staffing. The staffing information discovered in this way is not absolute and is not tied to quality descriptors, but it does tell people where a provider ranks on staffing among their peers.

This information is essential consumer information and has no bearing on compliance with aged care standards.

Implementing publication of staffing ratios would be a great step forward and one aged care providers need not fear if they are genuinely trying to provide the best care they can with the funding they have. They will be in among the providers with some of the better staffing ratios.

CPSA does not support the implementation of aged care reforms supports as the outcome of recent inquiries. It is CPSA’s position that the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety should be allowed to do its work before significant reform is undertaken, and that any reforms implemented pending the Royal Commission should be confined to:

  1. initiatives to create greater transparency and better consumer information; and
  2. to a crackdown on inadequate staffing through the current accreditation standards which following the Oakden scandal proved to be capable of working a lot better than CPSA had ever thought possible.

Passing the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 is appropriate and a great way to take action on aged care prior to the Royal Commission into Safety and Quality of Aged Care.

Recommendation:

That the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 be passed.

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