Nursing homes to list staff ratio
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.’