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Legislation proposed to require residential aged care providers to disclose staff ratios

22 Aug 2018

The Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 (the Bill) was introduced to the House of Representatives on Monday by independent MP Rebekha Sharkie.

What does the Bill involve?

If passed, the Bill would require all residential aged care providers to disclose staffing ratios to the Department of Health with a view to the information being published on the MyAgedCare website. 

The information would be disclosed on a quarterly basis and would include information about ratios of:

  • registered nurses;
  • enrolled nurses;
  • nurses with a certificate IV or equivalent qualification;
  • personal care attendants;
  • allied health staff; and
  • other staff members.

Providers would have an opportunity to give the public a short explanation with their ratio information, to “provide context for why they have the particular staffing ratio”, said MP Sharkie.

What does this mean for providers?

Aged care providers already have an obligation under the Aged Care Act to ensure they maintain an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff to ensure that the care needs of care recipients are met and services are delivered in accordance with the Accreditation Standards. This is necessarily flexible to take into account the different needs of residents and factors relating to the service, including its location.

Attempts to introduce mandatory staffing ratios have been unsuccessful to date as ratios present a potentially prescriptive and unreasonable blanket requirement for providers, with no good evidence that they improve care outcomes.

While this Bill is more likely to gain traction, as it relates to reporting staffing ratios rather than mandating a certain ratio, we still question whether the Bill will progress any further than previous attempts to amend the legislation.

Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill and keep subscribers updated.

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The content of this report is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. If you are interested in obtaining further advice in relation to consumer choice and risk management in home care please contact Julie McStay, Director – Aged Care and Retirement Living, Hynes Legal.

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