The landscape for Australian aged care is changing as they welcome their new Labor government. Many are expecting the newly elected party to deliver their promise as per what has been campaigned.
The Labor Party is initiating measures to achieve the following with the aim to “put security, dignity, quality and humanity back into aged care”:
- Enhancing the quality of care residents receive
- Better treatment for aged care workers
- Increased accountability to aged care facilities
Enhancing the quality of care residents receive
According to Aged Care Watch, there are over 7,000 reports related to understaffing or workload issues across Australian aged care facilities. As such, the new Labor government is setting a new mandate requiring minimum care duration, and having better food for residents.
Establishing minimum duration of care
The new party is pushing forth a mandate requiring minimum average care time based on the Royal Commission’s recommendations. The plan includes lifting the average care time to 215 minutes of care, of which 44 minutes comes from a registered nurse. This includes basic needs such as showering and feeding, as well as essential medical treatment.
Prior to the commencement of the mandate in October 2024, the Labor party will maintain the planned mandatory 200 minutes of care.
Given the new mandate’s focus on quality of care, it limits the number of residents each nurse can care for at once. Thus, nursing facilities experiencing labor shortages may find themselves struggling to meet the requirements.
Better food quality for residents
Studies have revealed a startling figure where 68% of aged care residents are malnourished, or at risk of malnutrition. The new Labor government aims to provide aged care residents with better quality food. They will be working with the relevant sectors to “develop and implement mandatory nutrition standards for aged care homes”.
An immediate implication for aged care facilities involves having relevant personnel to ensure these compliance standards are adhered to. Otherwise, they may have to allocate additional budget to employ dedicated staff to oversee food processes in the facility.
Better treatment for aged care workers
It is no surprise the pandemic has left aged care facilities understaffed. As such, nursing staff is taking on additional workload despite the low wage.
Hence, many took to the streets and went on strike in hopes of getting better treatment. The strike has highlighted what nurses are undergoing and how pivotal they are in the aged care ecosystem. Hence, the new Labor government is launching new initiatives to provide them with better treatment.
Pay raise increase
The Labor party is supporting a real wage increase of 25% for aged care workers. This movement was initiated “because if we want higher standards of care – we need to support higher wages for our carers.”
Even though pay raise was part of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, it was not covered by the Morrison government package. Thus there are uncertainties about the Labor party’s capacity to deliver higher wages.
Despite all these, it remains a signal to all nursing facilities a pay raise for aged care workers is probable. Therefore, nursing institutions should begin factoring higher pay when planning their budget.
Registered nurses on site 24/7
Another key recommendation by the Royal Commission was to have “at least one registered nurse on site per residential aged care facility at all times”. This plan will commence in July 2023 with the aim of elevating the quality of care residents receive, improving health outcomes, and reducing nurses workload.
With the launch of such an initiative, enrolled nurses and carers can receive prompt guidance and assistance from registered nurses when required. Not only does this make them feel more supported, it also creates better employee experience.
Direct employment preference
At the peak of pandemic and labor shortage, a lot of aged care facilities turned to temporary staffing. However it was costly and not sustainable.
To resolve this issue, the new Labor government is implementing direct employment preference (DEP) beginning January 2023.
This can help facilities reduce high staff turnover rates and administrative burdens for existing nursing staff when onboarding temporary nurses.
DEP can also greatly enhance the care residents receive as they “get the best care from regular workers” whom they “form strong relationships with”.
Increased accountability from aged care facilities
According to ANMF’s Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, “there is no real accountability over how government-funded aged care providers are investing their money”. She further commented “we obviously continue to be very concerned”.
In response to this situation, the new Labor government is seeking greater clarity from aged care providers about their expenditure. This includes a breakdown of how much taxpayers’ money is spent on care, nursing, food, etc.
Apart from greater funding transparency, the Labor party is also introducing measures such as:
New General Duty of Care
Aged care facilities will have to provide this level of care and service, otherwise they face penalties for breaches. For serious breaches of General Duty of Care, facilities may be issued criminal and civil penalties, including jail time.
New Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
This initiative will launch in late 2022 with the aim of creating a “dedicated, accessible and accountable process” for complaints. Furthermore, the Commissioner’s role includes involving themselves in the complaints process to resolve issues reported by residents, families and employees.
Stronger investigative powers
The roll out of this measure amplifies the power of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. This grants them the ability to enter and remain in any aged care facilities without prior notice. Their position also allows them full access to the facility’s documents and records.
How can aged care facilities meet the reform requirements?
The new Labor government is initiating many reforms measures, and nursing facilities can find themselves lost on where to begin.
Zipline is capable of assisting you in meeting the new requirements with our software.
Insights on residents, visitors, contractors and employees feedback
The Labor party is spending significant effort to improve residents’ and nursing facilities’ employees’ experience.
While directly asking them for feedback is a possible way, it could also imply getting surface answers. Not to mention, consolidating responses is also a chore when you have over hundreds of people surveyed.
Zipline software can help your facility capture their feedback and translate it into a concise report. Our powerful reporting provides you with a summarized overview of the main concerns residents, visitors and employees have.
This helps to speed up the process of feedback collection, and your management can take prompt actions to ensure their concerns and needs are addressed.
The new Labor government has imposed rules on some of the initiatives they planned to introduce. Alongside, penalties such as criminal and civil penalties are included for instances when rules are breached.
These consequences can have great implications for a facility.
Zipline’s compliance software can help you avoid hefty fines by ensuring your facility adheres to the latest guidelines. Paired with our visitor management software, it enhances the security of your facility compound.
Families will also feel more comfortable letting their love ones stay in your facility.
These new measures initiated by the new Labor government will have an impact on how aged care facilities operate.
Nursing institutions may find it challenging to digest these measures and ensure adherence to them. With our experience of working with over thousands of facilities like yours, we are confident in helping you adjust to these changes.
You can take the first step by chatting with us to learn how we can support you.