Home | News | Over half of Australian residents in ‘understaffed’ homes: royal commission report

Over half of Australian residents in ‘understaffed’ homes: royal commission report

A new report released by the aged care royal commission has found that, in comparison with the American system, 57.6 per cent of all Australian aged care residents live in homes that are understaffed.

The research paper, written by the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, looked into the staffing levels of the Australian sector compared with international standards.

Researchers looked at the staffing benchmarks in the United States, British Columbia in Canada, Germany, and Victoria and Queensland.

Our staffing lags behind Germany and Canada in a number of areas. The report shows that although 93 per cent of Australian residents receive the German requirement of at least 112 minutes of care per resident day, only 7 per cent of residents receive the required 56 minutes of care per day from qualified nursing staff.

The Canadian system recommends that residents receive an average of 22 minutes of allied health services per day. The current Australian average is currently 8 minutes of allied health care per day. Achieving the level recommended in British Columbia would require a 175 per cent increase in allied health staffing.

The biggest disparity in care appears when you compare Aussie standards to the American system. The US uses a 5-star rating to judge staffing levels in its homes, and if we put Australian data into this model only 1.3 per cent of homes would achieve a 5-star rating.

Most (57.6 per cent) residents are in homes that have 1- or 2-star staffing levels, 27 per cent are in homes that have 3 stars and 14.1 per cent receive 4 stars.

To bring staffing levels up to 3 stars would require an increase of 37.3 per cent more staff hours in those facilities. This translates into an additional 20 per cent in total care staff hours across Australia. To achieve 5 stars across the board we would need an increase of 49.4 per cent in total care staffing.

The research authors wrote: “A recurring theme [during the royal commission] has been the lack of staffing, in particular skilled nursing staff, to meet the wide-ranging and increasingly complex needs of residents. Our results support these assertions.

“It is clear from this analysis and the evidence being presented to the commission that there is a need for additional investment in care funding, the majority of which is required to increase staffing levels to an acceptable standard.”

The commission continues in Melbourne from October 14–18, and will focus on the aged care workforce.

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One comment

  1. Where do these stats come from? Have all aged care facilities in Australia been asked to present figures on staffing? Have I missed something? Another example of something said with such conviction that it achieves a degree of credit and from an “authoritative” source!