Aged Care

Aged care enters new era of excellence, RNs 98% presence on site


In a significant triumph for the aged care sector, the Albanese Government has fulfilled its pledge to reintegrate RNs into nursing homes.

The fruition of this commitment is evidenced by the presence of Registered Nurses (RNs) on-site in aged care facilities for an impressive 98 per cent of the time, bolstered by the Albanese Government’s resolute 24/7 nursing initiative.

Reinstating dignity for aged care residents was a pivotal promise of the government, and this milestone marks a substantial enhancement in care. RNs now remain in residential homes for an average of 23.5 hours per day, showcasing the remarkable strides achieved within just a month of implementing the 24/7 nursing mandate.

This initiative aligns seamlessly with Quality Indicators and Star Ratings, illustrating a positive trajectory in continuous improvement across the aged care landscape.

The adoption of 24/7 nursing translates into elevated safety and care quality for residents, minimising the need for undue trips to hospital emergency departments. The latest data, which encompasses 95 per cent of facilities, unveils encouraging results:

  • Averages reveal the presence of an RN on-site in aged care homes for an impressive 98 per cent of the time.
  • RNs are accessible for an average of 23.5 hours each day.
  • A commendable 86 per cent of facilities now offer around-the-clock nursing presence.
  • The remaining facilities are progressively nearing the threshold of 24/7 coverage, indicating an upward trajectory in the coming months.

The National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) report for January to March 2023 corroborates the improvement in aged care quality for older Australians. Correspondingly, Star Ratings highlight a surge in residential aged care homes attaining four and five-star ratings, offsetting the reduction in one and two-star ratings since the inception of Star Ratings in December 2022.

To foster transparency and awareness, the Department of Health and Aged Care has introduced a new 24/7 registered nursing dashboard, offering accessible data on the extent of 24/7 nursing provision within the residential aged care sector.

This steadfast progress in the data underscores the collective impact of aged care reforms spearheaded by the Albanese Government, reinforced by robust support from the aged care sector. These collaborative endeavours culminate in enhanced care quality and greater safety assurances for residents.

Aged Care Minister hails remarkable progress

Aged Care Minister Anika Wells lauds the achievement of the 24/7 nursing requirement, reflecting on the dedicated care extended to older Australians.”We introduced the 24/7 nursing requirement because older Australians deserve around-the-clock clinical care and this data reveals they are now, on average, receiving that care 98 per cent of the time, or 23.5 hours a day.”

Wells extended her gratitude to RNs, remarking, “This is what caring for some of our most vulnerable people looks like. I want to thank the nurses who voted with their feet and returned to aged care.”

This milestone, she emphasises, encapsulates “high-quality care and safety that our older generations – our cherished family members and loved ones residing in aged care homes – truly deserve.”

She further highlights that this achievement is emblematic of collective efforts. “I am not on this ambitious journey alone. I commend aged care workers and providers who have taken up this challenge, and are working with the Government to lift the standard of care. domain, particularly with the upcoming introduction of mandatory care minutes targets on 1 October.”

ACN’s vital role in elevating aged care nursing standards

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is equally exultant in response to Minister Wells’ announcement. The revelation that 24/7 Registered Nurses are present on-site in aged care facilities for a remarkable 98 per cent of the time is a testament to progress. ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward applauded this achievement as a source of solace for residents and their families.

“Provision of 24/7 Registered Nurses in aged care was a recommendation of the Royal Commission and a shared policy of the Albanese Government and ACN,” Ward said.

ACN actively contributes to the augmentation of aged care nursing standards through initiatives like the Aged Care Transition to Practice Program (ACTPP), which empowers nurses to excel in aged care settings. The program encompasses participants and mentors from diverse States, Territories and over 40 distinct aged care organisations.

Working in synergy with the Government, ACN diligently shapes the future of nursing by equipping them to emerge as clinical and professional leaders within Australia’s residential aged care domain. This mission resonates with the Royal Commission’s recommendations and aspirations for quality care.

Ward further highlighted the impact of a skilled nursing workforce on health outcomes and the overall well-being of older individuals residing in diverse settings. ACN, in tandem with the Government and the sector, upholds its commitment to safeguarding the health, dignity, and welfare of all residents within residential aged care facilities.

Acknowledging that Registered Nurses play a pivotal role in aged care settings, Ward elaborated, “They provide expert clinical governance, leadership, and oversight for enrolled nurses and unregulated healthcare workers, who make up most of the aged care workforce currently.”

ACN, together with the nursing community, takes immense pride in contributing towards the Government’s pivotal milestone, ensuring the provision of the highest quality health care to older Australians when they need it most.

Consensus on progress and future endeavours

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) added its endorsement to the announcement, affirming its role in fortifying aged care standards. OPAN’s chief, Craig Gear, acknowledged that these figures herald a significant stride towards augmenting care for the elderly within aged care homes.

“The figures suggest we can now build to significantly improve care for older people living in aged care homes. OPAN congratulates the sector – in particular, aged care providers – on achieving this positive outcome in the face of significant workforce challenges.”

However, Gear emphasised the need for a well-defined timeline for the Government’s exemptions, particularly for providers grappling with challenges in rural, regional and remote areas. This clarity is indispensable to ensure equitable and effective care alternatives for the elderly population.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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