Call to speed up aged care royal commission recommendations for nurses

Helen Haines MP
Dr Helen Haines MP, Independent member of the Victorian seat of Indi

The nurses’ union has welcomed a move from Victorian Independent Dr Helen Haines to mandate a 24/7 registered nurse in aged care and speed up services in the bush.

Following a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to ensure an RN is onsite at all times by mid-2024, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation yesterday called on the Australian Government to implement it as soon as possible.

Former nurse, Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines, yesterday introduced a private member’s motion to call on the government to make changes across the aged care sector, especially to improve the supply, diversity, accessibility and affordability of services in regional and rural Australia.

“I’m speaking here today because we cannot, and must not, forget about aged-care reform,” she said.

“It’s close to six months since the aged care royal commission handed down its report, yet it has all but disappeared from the national conversation. In this casual way of forgetting, successive governments have overseen 30 years of the slow collapse of the aged-care sector, and we can’t let that happen again.”

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the union was “deeply disappointed” the “dangerously inadequate staffing levels in nursing homes” remained in place.

“The nation was horrified by the Royal Commission’s shocking discovery of widespread neglect and systemic failings across the aged care sector, which is why we find it hard to believe that the Government hasn’t responded to the Royal Commission’s most important recommendations to fix aged care,” she said.

“Unfortunately, with no national laws to guarantee appropriate ratios of qualified nursing staff and aged care staff, the suffering of our elderly will continue.”

The royal commission recommended at least one registered nurse on shift in the morning and afternoon, for at least 16 hours a day, from July.

By July 2024, the inquiry suggested a registered nurse be onsite around the clock and provide at least 44 minutes of care within overall personal care of more than 215 minutes per day for an average resident.

The Australian Government’s official response to the inquiry said the funding would be introduced to enable the 200-minute care time and a registered nurse on-site for 16 hours a day with the introduction of the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model on October 1.

The minimum care time will be mandatory from October 1, 2023.

Once the new Aged Care Act is legislated, it will outline minimum staff time standards for residential aged care. 

Government Member for Higgins, Dr Katie Allen, responded to the motion, pointing to the government’s comprehensive five-stage response.

“This is a new era that has already commenced in this parliament, with many of these already starting to have legislation around them,” she said.

“The Morrison government cares for the dignity of Australians as they age, with $630 million invested to improve the supply, diversity and affordability of aged care across rural and regional Australia, in recognition of the contribution they have made to our country.

“The government has already guaranteed additional funding to support services to meet the royal commission’s recommended minimum 200-minute care time standard and to have a registered nurse onsite for 16 hours per day.”

Dr Haines also called for an aged care solution for the region of Bright, which she said had not had a dedicated aged care service for more than three years.


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