Home | Clinical Practice | 71 per cent of aged carers say they’re struggling to meet 24/7 care
Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells released mandates earlier this year to adhere to the 2021 Aged Care Royal Commission standards. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

71 per cent of aged carers say they’re struggling to meet 24/7 care

One in five aged care workers says the 200 minute per resident mandate is 'impossible' to achieve, and 71 per cent say they are struggling to retain registered nurses (RN), according to a 2023 report.

A July mandate sees aged care homes have a 24/7 on-duty RN, and a following October rule requires carers give 200 minutes of care to each resident per day, including 40 minutes with a registered nurse.

The Ideagen Aged Care Workforce Report surveyed 707 carers from July to August 2023, who overwhelmingly said new mandates are difficult to achieve due to a lack of staff and increased admin tasks, and not necessarily to do with low pay.

Fifty-four per cent of respondents said the 24/7 RN requirement was 'difficult to achieve' or 'moderately challenging', and 12 per cent said it was 'impossible to achieve'.

Providing 200 minutes of care was 'difficult to achieve' for 40 per cent of the surveyed carers, 'moderately challenging' for 32 per cent, 'impossible to achieve' for 21 per cent and 'easy to achieve' for 7 per cent.

However, Aged Care Minister Anika Wells reported in October that registered nurses were on site 98 per cent of the time across the sector, up from the missed target of 81 per cent in March.

Aged care providers will be required to deliver 215 minutes of care, including 44 minutes from an RN, from October 1 2024.

Although demand for aged care workers is increasing, the Report says that 30 per cent plan to leave the sector in the next three years, and 49 per cent in the next five.

Participants listed 'stress', 'excessive overtime/expectations' and 'too much paperwork' as their top three reasons for quitting the job, in that order.

The government awarded aged care workers a pay rise in July, but only 14 per cent rank 'low pay' as their top reason for leaving, among the 49 per cent of respondents who listed it in their top three.

Seventy-five per cent said the boosted pay had no effect on the quality of their work, 14 per cent said the increase has 'harmed quality, efficiency, and things are worse now', and just 4 per cent said it has 'improved quality and efficiency'.

The report found 82 per cent of aged care workers have experienced an increased workload after the 2019 Aged Care Quality Standards were released, and 41 per cent claim they have lost over half of their management team in the last 12 months.

Ideagen (formerly Complispace) senior vice president David Griffiths said the Aged Care Royal Commission called for better care from high quality staff, not just more staff.

"Registered nurses are one of the most in-demand professions in the country, yet the aged care system we are moving towards doesn’t seem to acknowledge they can find better paid work elsewhere in public hospitals," he said.

"However, the reality in implementing a new system without the corresponding investment, is it is doomed to fail."

The Aged Care Quality Standards are expected to be reviewed and reissued sometime in the next year, with a new Aged Care Act on schedule for release in July 2024.

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