The Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) has proposed several solutions to ensure that residential aged care facilities can meet the legislated requirement of having Registered Nurses (RNs) on-site 24/7 by 1 July 2023.
According to ACCPA CEO Tom Symondson, the proposal represents a common-sense approach that recognises nursing workforce shortages across Australia. The ACCPA has suggested several amendments to the legislation to help aged care providers meet the RN requirement while ensuring that residents continue to receive quality care.
Symondson stated that while the sector understands the importance of robust arrangements for the clinical care of older people, they also want to avoid unintended consequences of the legislation.
The ACCPA has recommended several measures to ensure workforce supply, including incentives to upskill aged care workers, tax breaks to encourage training uptake, pay parity across Australia and a specific visa for migrants willing to work in aged care. Additionally, expanding exemptions to recognise that providers with more than 30 beds may struggle to meet the target in areas of workforce shortage was also proposed.
While 80% of aged care providers already have RNs available 24/7, the COVID-19 pandemic has made workforce shortages in aged care even more severe, making it challenging for some providers to find enough staff by 1 July. The ACCPA wants 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.
In its submission to the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Registered Nurses) Principles 2023 exposure draft, the ACCPA also suggested reduced reporting to avoid requiring providers to frequently report minor breaches of the target due to circumstances beyond their control, or where effective alternative models such as Telehealth are in place. Additionally, the association has recommended efficient reporting mechanisms to ensure the bulk of the reporting burden does not fall on those providers least able to manage it.
The ACCPA is committed to working with the government to ensure that older people living in residential aged care can access the best possible care while providing clarity for aged care providers on how they can meet the legislated RN requirement.