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Make publication of aged care staffing levels law: ANMF

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) will today reiterate its support for a Bill that would make it compulsory for aged care providers to publicly disclose staffing levels.

The Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport will also hear from aged care providers, government agencies, peak bodies, and other professional nursing and medical associations at a roundtable public hearing in Canberra.

Chair Trent Zimmerman said the inquiry is expected to provide the Committee with a range of perspectives on the Bill, including whether or not it should be passed and also highlight broader issues regarding staffing levels.

The Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018, moved by independent MP Rebekha Sharkie, would require aged care providers to publish full-time equivalent staffing ratios by qualification on the My Aged Care website.

Other than the name of the provider and those of the directors or members of the committee of management, no other personal information would be disclosed.

Providers would also have the option of including an accompanying explanation of no more than 250 words. “I recognise that different facilities have a different composition of residents who have different care needs,” Sharkie said of this addition to the bill.

ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler will tell the roundtable that the move is a vital first step in making aged providers publicly accountable for the level and type of staffing they provide to their residents.

Butler said the Bill would be an “excellent first step towards achieving safe staffing levels, by making providers publicly report on the staffing and skills mix levels offered in their facilities”.

“The decision to place a relative or loved one in a nursing home is an incredibly stressful, emotional experience for individuals and the family which is why we believe this simple disclosure of staffing ratios would assist consumers and family members in making an informed decision about which home to choose,” she said.

Butler said the ANMF was encouraged that the Committee recognised the importance of some form of mandated staffing: as part of its inquiry into the aged care system, the Committee recommended that there be one registered nurse always on site in residential aged care facilities and that there be monitoring and reporting on the correlation between standards of care and staffing mixes.

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