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ACCPA proposes solutions for 24/7 RNs in aged care homes

Ensuring older people living in residential aged care can gain access to the best possible care is what every aged care provider strives to achieve.

The Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) believes the legislated requirement for Registered Nurses to be on site 24/7 in aged care homes from 1 July 2023 is an important step towards meeting this goal.

“Our sector understands that Australians want to be assured of robust arrangements for the clinical care of older people, but they also don’t want to see them adversely affected by the unintended consequences of legislation,” ACCPA CEO Tom Symondson says.

“We have proposed amendments to this legislation which we believe represent a common sense approach intended to make it clearer for aged care providers on how they can meet this requirement while recognising the realities of nursing workforce shortages across Australia.

“We welcome the Minister for Aged Care’s acknowledgement this week that some providers will not meet the 1 July deadline to have RNs on site 24/7 and we want to work with the government to ensure residents continue to receive quality care.

“Eighty per cent of aged care providers already have RNs 24/7, and many more are close to achieving the target. However, the persistent workforce shortages in aged care, made more severe by COVID, mean some providers will struggle to find enough staff by 1 July. We want to see common sense changes to the requirement to ensure that providers who are doing everything they can to meet the target are not unnecessarily penalised, taking time and resources away from their number one priority of caring for their residents.”

In its submission to the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Registered Nurses) Principles 2023 exposure draft, ACCPA makes a series of recommendations to both support implementation of the legislation in the current environment and improve workforce supply in the short to medium term. Recommendations include:

  • Measures to ensure workforce supply such as:
    • incentives to upskill aged care workers
    • tax breaks to encourage training uptake
    • pay parity across Australia
    • a specific visa for migrants willing to work in aged care
  • A common sense approach to expanding exemptions, to recognise that providers with more than 30 beds may also struggle to meet the target if they are in areas of workforce shortage.

  • Reduced reporting to ensure providers are not required to frequently report on even very minor breaches of the target due to circumstances beyond their control, or where there are effective alternative models in place such as Telehealth.

  • Efficient reporting mechanisms to ensure the bulk of the burden of reporting does not fall on those providers least able to manage it.

The ACCPA Submission can be downloaded here.