MEDIA RELEASE: COTA Australia calls on Parliament to investigate merits of publishing aged care staffing levels

Australia’s leading advocacy body for older Australians and aged care consumers, COTA Australia, welcomes today’s introduction into Parliament of the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 by Centre Alliance’s MP for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, supported by Independent MP for Indi Cathy McGowan.

The Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 aims to increase transparency for potential residents, and families considering residential care for loved ones, by mandating the publication of staff-to patient ratios on the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website.

The Bill would require residential aged care providers to publish full time equivalent staffing ratios by qualification category on the website every quarter and in the event that these change by more than 10%, the provider would also need to notify the Government within a 28-day period.

Chief Executive of COTA Australia, Ian Yates, said the publication of staffing levels is a welcome initiative to ensuring age care providers staff adequately to meet residential care needs and deliver safe and good quality care.

“Older Australians and their loved ones deserve access to information on staffing levels and mix to help them make an informed choice when considering which residential aged care provider is best suited for their individual needs.”

“Publishing staffing information on the My Aged Care website will not only benefit older Australians and their families but will also allow the Government and sector to identify gaps where demand for residential aged care is outstripping the supply of workers,” said Mr Yates.

COTA Australia is calling on the Parliament to send Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport to investigate the most appropriate method of publishing staffing levels and ratios.

“While we welcome the overall objective of the Bill introduced in Parliament today, it is a complex issue to ensure that the information presented is both accurate and easy to understand for consumers.

“For example, the bill only seeks to publishes ratios, without publishing the actual number of staff employed and doesn’t explain why Registered Nursing staff should be separately published at Levels 1 – 5 which may be confusing for a consumer who would think any RN should be able to address their clinical needs.”

“While COTA is unconvinced a blunt mandated nurse ratio is the best way to achieve optimal care outcomes, requiring providers to publicly disclose to consumers how their individual staffing levels achieve good care outcomes is an issue worthy of the Parliament’s investigation.”

The full text of the Bill introduced into Parliament today can be accessed here:

Media contact: Bronte Kerr 0411 676 269; Ian Yates 0418 835 439

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.