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Nurses disappointed by aged care report

ANF says the PC did not offer real solutions.

The final Productivity Commission report into aged care saying it fails to address quality care for elderly Australians, says the ANF.

ANF federal secretary Lee Thomas said the report Caring for Older Australians doesn't offer real solutions to fixing Australia's under-resourced aged care sector.

"Whilst the PC report acknowledges there are workforce issues in aged care, it contains no tangible mechanisms on how to close the wages gap for the aged care workforce so residents receive quality care they deserve," Thomas said.

"It is inconceivable that the PC, after months of public hearings and submissions from nursing staff from the various states, fails to address the $500 million required to close the wages gap for nurses and assistants in nursing (AINs) working in the sector.

"The PC report recommends the timeframe of three to five years for a new statutory body to examine wages, but this is far too long. Aged care can't wait any longer.”

The ANF is calling on the federal government to step-in now and act by making next year's budget the aged care budget.

According to the ANF, the sector urgently needs more than 20,000 extra nursing staff to cope with Australia's ageing population.

"The extra $500 million funding for aged care would assist in ensuring there is the right balance of skills and nursing hours so that nursing staff can deliver quality care for every resident they look after in nursing homes,” Thomas said.

Workforce recommendations
* The Australian Aged Care Commission, when assessing and recommending scheduled care prices, should take into account the need to pay fair and competitive wages to nursing and other care staff delivering approved aged care services and the appropriate mix of skills and staffing levels for the delivery of those services.

* The Australian Government should promote skill development through an expansion of accredited courses to provide aged care workers at all levels with the skills they need, including:

- vocational training for care workers entering the sector and looking to upgrade their skills
- adequate tertiary nursing places to meet the anticipated demand from the health and aged care sectors
- advanced clinical courses for nurses
- management courses for health and care workers entering these roles.

* The Australian Government, in conjunction with universities and providers, should fund the expansion of ‘teaching aged care services’ to promote the sector and provide appropriate training for medical, nursing and allied health students and professionals.

* Given industry concerns about the variability in training outcomes for students, the federal government should undertake an independent and comprehensive review of aged care-related vocational education and training (VET) courses and their delivery by registered training organisations (RTOs). Among other things, the review should consider:

-  examining current practices that may be leading to variability in student outcomes, including periods of training and practicum
- reviewing procedures to ensure that VET trainers and assessors possess required current practice knowledge
- identifying whether regulators are adequately resourced to monitor and audit RTOs using a risk-based regulatory approach and have appropriate enforcement regimes that allow for appropriate and proportional responses to non-compliance by RTOs
- identifying reforms to ensure students demonstrate pertinent competencies on a more consistent basis.

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