Home | News | Is minister’s praise of care minutes consistent with data?
Minister Wells praised the increase in care minutes, despite data revealing only 30 per cent of homes reached the care targets. Picture: News Corp Australia/Joanne Vella.

Is minister’s praise of care minutes consistent with data?

The Aged Care Minister praised the increase in direct care minutes despite data revealing that less than half of the aged care facilities met the benchmark.

Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells said residents were receiving an "additional 3.6 million minutes of direct care every single day".

Data from the first quarter showed that aged care homes delivered an average of 201.93 care minutes per resident per day, including 38.76 by a registered nurse.

"This represents an increase of 20 total care minutes per day since 2020-21," Ms Wells said.

"This is in addition to delivering our 24/7 nursing requirement, with registered nurses now onsite 98.79% of the time, or 23 hours and 42 minutes per day."

Despite targets of 200 minutes and the additional 40 minutes of nurse care being delivered, only 32 per cent of homes were reaching both care minutes.

The nationwide nursing shortage contributed to the low numbers, with figures from the Department of Health and Aged Care finding that residential aged care faced a gap of 5,918 nurses by 2024-25.

This was an improvement of only 44 from government forecasts during the December quarter.

Since September 2022, 54 aged-care homes have been closed due to staffing reforms such as 24/7 mandatory registered nurses (RN) and minimum-care requirements.

The sector now races to comply with the upcoming 215 minutes of care, including 44 minutes of RN care starting from October 1 of this year.

Last month, a group of aged care nurses and carers called out aged care providers, saying they could not be trusted to uphold the standard of care for older Australians.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) secretary Annie Butler said many providers were "cutting corners" and failed to comply with the mandatory care minutes.

"Our members are reporting that many providers are failing to meet the mandatory staffing requirements and are instead rearranging rosters to appear compliant," Ms Butler said.

"They are removing roles like enrolled nurses and replacing them with less qualified positions, which is unacceptable.

"Providers are also placing increased pressure on staff by asking them to perform non-care work like serving meals and washing dishes."

An anonymous online reporting system had accounts ranging from sections being understaffed with "four care workers for 40 residents" and "attending double shifts alone".

One account said existing staff were skipping breaks, staying after their shift to complete paperwork, and working outside their scope to complete tasks.

"The facility has reduced the number of lifestyle staff and food service staff. AINs are now expected to serve food, collect meal trolleys, and take residents to and from activities."

Chief of Whiddon Chris Mamarelis said person-centred care was important over the "rigorous" government mandates.

"It is an unfortunate reality that the current focus on mandated care minutes and 24/7 Registered Nurse requirements is directing the focus onto compliance, rather than driving quality care and truly meeting the needs of residents," Mr Mamrelis told Aged Care Insite.

"More than 78% of providers are not currently meeting their mandated care minutes. In addition, they are struggling to comply with the 24/7 RN requirements, particularly on overnight shifts. This has coincided with a dramatic 400% increase in the proportion of direct care time provided by casual third-party contractors.

"As providers are required to direct more funding to care roles, which are becoming increasingly more cost-intensive, some providers may be forced to choose between meeting their care minutes through expensive agency staff and delivering other core supports such as wellbeing programs, hospitality, and maintenance services."

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One comment

  1. Teknik Telekomunikasi

    Why is there a discrepancy between ministers’ praise of care minutes and the actual data, and what implications does this hold? Regard Telkom University

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