Nurses working in the aged care sector could be in line for loyalty bonuses worth thousands of dollars under a government scheme.
The minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, released details of the $135.6 million pot which was originally touted as part of the federal budget response to the royal commission.
The new initiative will reward full-time nurses with $3700 for each 12-month period they stay with the same aged care provider. Part-time and casual registered nurses can receive payment on a pro-rata basis, averaging $2700 each year.
Nurses will be eligible in both 2022 and 2023.
The payments come after a trying few years in a sector beset by damning revelations during the royal commission, constant workforce issues and a pandemic.
The payments are the government's attempt to retain nurses as the sector faces a workforce shortfall. The recent aged care workforce census found an estimated 22,000 vacancies in direct care roles across the sector.
Over the 12 months from November 2019 to November 2020 providers reported that 29 per cent of all workers they employed in these roles as at November 2019 had left their employment as at 23 November 2020.
The turnover of NPs and RNs was higher than that of other roles, with 37 per cent having left their employment over the 12-month period.
The payment scheme will have a particular focus on rural and remote areas.
On top of the loyalty bonus, nurses can receive up to an additional $2,300 if they work in a rural or remote area, or if they hold a postgraduate qualification or take on additional leadership or training responsibilities in their workplace.
“This payment recognises the integral role of registered nurses in delivering high-quality care for our most vulnerable,” Minister Hunt said.
“We hope it encourages aged care nurses to continue working with older Australians and incentivises nurses in other sectors to explore a career in aged care.”
The aged care minister hopes it will attract more nurses to aged care and suggested providers should highlight the bonuses when recruiting.
However, Labor's health spokesman Mark Butler said the government is rehashing old announcements while ignoring other key recommendations from the royal commission.
"Scott Morrison has ignored the recommendation to require a nurse to be on duty 24/7 in residential care," Butler told AAP.
"This is core to improving clinical care for older Australians in residential care."
Aged care providers will need to apply for the Aged Care Registered Nurse Payment on behalf of their nursing workforce, in a non-competitive grant process.
More information about the payment is available here.Do you have an idea for a story?
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