The 1000-page Final Report, titled Care, Dignity and Respect, comprises eight volumes and makes 148 wide-ranging recommendations for significant reform of the aged care sector. It is the culmination of a two-year Inquiry, with over 10,000 Submissions, involving 23 public hearings and evidence from overwhelmed nurses, carers, elderly residents, and their families. Their often-distressing evidence exposed how dangerous levels of understaffing in privately-run nursing homes were the root cause of so much of the residents’ neglect.
Critically, the report acknowledges that staff ratios should be introduced to ensure that there are sufficient nursing and other care staff present at all times in residential aged care. The ANMF has long-campaigned for the introduction of safe staffing laws – to stop the suffering of elderly Australians living in residential aged care facilities. We thank the Royal Commissioners, for acknowledging the importance of the right numbers of the right types of staff in guaranteeing safe, dignified care for every older Australian.
Other key recommendations include a new Aged Care Act that ensures older people receive high-quality care in a safe and caring environment; establishing an Aged Care Advisory Council; abolishing the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and replacing it with an independent authority; urgently reviewing the aged care quality standards; and the regulation of restraint in aged care.
“In regards to the aged care workforce, recommendations include mandatory minimum qualifications for personal care workers (PCWs), specifically a Certificate III, as well as a national registration scheme that includes ongoing training. Commissioners also recommend minimum staff time standards for residential care. Under the proposals, from July 2022, aged care providers would be required to engage registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and PCWs to provide care for at least 200 minutes per resident per day for the average resident, with at least 40 minutes of the care provided by an RN.” (ANMJ 2021)
“Further, the minimum staff time standard should require at least one RN is on-site at each aged care home for morning and afternoon shifts. From July, 2024, commissioners recommend the standard should increase so that the average resident receives 215 minutes of care per day, with at least 44 minutes of the care provided by an RN. By this stage, at least one RN should be on-site at all residential aged care facilities at all times.” (ANMJ 2021)
In his overview of the report, Commissioner Tony Pagone said the aged care system in Australia has many flaws and that a Royal Commission, the highest form of inquiry, was necessary to measure quality and safety. The Report also acknowledges that this Government and many previous Governments have done nothing to address ever-increasing shortages of registered nurses and qualified carers working in aged care.
“Without adequate staffing and skills mix, with minimum standards for care workers, nursing home residents have suffered terribly, as a result of inadequate levels of care,” ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler said following the release of the report. “The Morrison Government must now act; every day the Government delays taking action to address dangerous understaffing in nursing homes and community care, is another sad day, that vulnerable residents will continue to suffer.”
Updates correct as at 2 March 2021.
Authorised by Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary