Nurs­ing homes to list staff ra­tio

The West Australian - - THE TEACHER’S PET - Phoebe Wearne Can­berra

Nurs­ing homes should be forced to pub­lish their staff-tores­i­dent ra­tios so se­niors can choose a fa­cil­ity where they will get qual­ity care, a Fed­eral par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee has con­cluded.

In a re­port pre­sented to Par­lia­ment yesterday, the com­mit­tee led by Liberal back­bencher Trent Zim­mer­man urges MPs to pass leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing aged-care providers to dis­close staffing ra­tios so con­sumers can “con­sider res­i­dent acu­ity lev­els when com­par­ing fa­cil­i­ties”.

Man­dated staffing lev­els in nurs­ing homes to com­bat ne­glect are likely to be con­sid­ered in the aged-care royal com­mis­sion next year.

But sec­tor bod­ies have warned any in­tro­duc­tion of min­i­mum staffing re­quire­ments could hit providers with bil­lions of dol­lars in ex­tra costs and worsen the sec­tor’s vi­a­bil­ity.

A pre­vi­ous in­quiry by the In­de­pen­dent MP Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Health, Aged Care and Sport into the na­tion’s res­i­den­tial aged-care fa­cil­i­ties rec­om­mended manda­tory min­i­mum staffing lev­els af­ter it found that hav­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate num­ber of staff on duty was a “crit­i­cal com­po­nent” of de­liv­er­ing qual­ity ser­vices.

Mr Zim­mer­man said the com­mit­tee there­fore sup­ported the Aged Care Amend­ment (Staffing Ra­tio Dis­clo­sure) Bill 2018, as it would in­crease trans­parency and se­niors’ ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about spe­cific fa­cil­i­ties.

“The com­mit­tee has also rec­om­mended that staffing ra­tios be pub­lished with ad­di­tional con­tex­tual in­for­ma­tion to as­sist con­sumers in in­ter­pret­ing the data, and en­able them to be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to make an in­formed choice,” Mr Zim­mer­man said.

The pri­vate mem­ber’s Bill to force pub­li­ca­tion of staffing ra­tios in aged-care fa­cil­i­ties was in­tro­duced by South Aus­tralian in­de­pen­dent MP Re­bekha Sharkie, who wel­comed the re­port.

She called on the Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce to Par­lia­ment her leg­is­la­tion, which she de­scribed as a “prag­matic step for­ward” for the sec­tor that would make res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties be up­front about their staffing lev­els.

“It is not the only way to in­crease trans­parency in this sec­tor, but given that the in­dus­try has con­sis­tently re­sisted trans­parency when it comes to staffing num­bers and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, I do be­lieve it will help,” she said.

“The royal com­mis­sion into aged care ser­vices mustn’t put the brakes on ur­gent re­forms in the sec­tor.”

‘The royal com­mis­sion into aged care ser­vices mustn’t put the brakes on ur­gent re­forms.’

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