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Providers support 24-hour nurse coverage, but where is the funding and the workers to make possible?

Release date: 31 Mar 2022

Aged care providers have welcomed Senate amendments to the government’s aged care reform bill that would bring forward the requirement for 24-hour registered nurse coverage to 2022. The amendments in the Senate are yet to be adopted in the House of Representatives. 

If the bill becomes law, providers will require emergency funds and additional workforce to implement the 24-hour coverage in all facilities. Otherwise, the closure of some regional, rural and remote providers is a serious risk because there simply aren't the workers and funds available right now.

More than 80 per cent of facilities already have registered nurses on shift overnight, but some facilities have difficulty finding suitable staff to work these shifts, which can become even more difficult when rostered staff call in sick.

Aged care was already suffering a serious workforce shortage and low wages prior to the pandemic; attracting nurses has become even more difficult through the pressures of the last two years.

The successful amendment to the bill in the Senate has highlighted the urgent need for workforce action in aged care. It has brought to a head overdue dramatic action to support our workers in order to provide quality care to older Australians.

Aged care providers are urging the current government, and whomever forms the next government, to prioritise aged care wages to prevent an ongoing and devastating workforce crisis.

Since the start of the pandemic, aged care workers have gone above and beyond. They should be getting the pay they deserve and career certainty. The Royal Commission recognised this. It’s well overduetime for that this is fixed once and for all.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) recently marked the anniversary of the Royal Commission by calling for:

  1. A Workforce Partnership Supplement for providers to spend immediately on increasing wages, training, minutes of care, 24-hour nursing and COVID-19 prevention and workforce retention costs.

  2. A minimum wage increase for aged care workers by funding the Fair Work Commission Work Value Case, and award wage increases from July 2022.

  3. A commitment to a multidisciplinary workforce by putting in place an allied health needs assessment and funding model by July 2024.

In its pre-budget submission, the AACC also made clear the urgent actions required on COVID-19, workforce and sustainability. 

Recent analysis from AACC shows that its workforce is on the brink of the poverty line, with wages for aged care workers having failed to keep up with the cost of living.

 

The following representatives of the AACC are available for interview:

Paul Sadler

CEO Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA)

 

Media contact:

Jane Garcia (Essential) 0455 111 593

Sean Rooney

CEO Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)

 

Media contact:

Kate Hannon  0499 106 957

 


About the Australian Aged Care Collaboration

The AACC is a group of six aged care peak bodies: Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and UnitingCare Australia. Together, the AACC represents more than 1,000 organisations who deliver 70 per cent of aged care services to 1.3 million Australians, either in their own homes or in communal residential settings.

As the peak body representing church, charitable and community-based organisations providing accommodation and care services to older people, people with a disability and their carers, ACSA can be contacted for comment on issues affecting the industry.

Areas ACSA may provide media commentary on include:  

  • Aged care reforms
  • Residential aged care
  • Home care
  • Independent and retirement living
  • Housing for older Australians
  • Palliative care
  • The aged care workforce in Australia

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