As we reported recently a proposed Aged Care Amendment Bill was presented in Federal Parliament on 7th September 2017. It was introduced by Senator Derryn Hinch. He claims the aim is to ensure quality care is provided to residents in nursing homes. Importantly, he ties this to the ratio of skilled staff at Aged Care Providers’ homes. But some parties, such as the Aged Care Lobby Group (ACLG) are sounding a caution.
Concerns have been being raised for some time about the care provided by some unethical providers. For a start, families of some residents have complained about instances of neglect, even abuse. Notably, many of these claims related to perceived understaffing issues.
Furthermore, concerns have been raised by some carers themselves. Both registered nurses and nursing aids have complained about reduced staff numbers and work hours significantly compromising the basic care they can provide. The implication appears to be that some providers provide too few, trained staff. Derryn Hinch ties this perceived problem to the lack of specificity in the Aged Care Act 1997. That’s why he wants it amended.
Are staffing ratios really the problem?
The ANMF Secretary Lee Thomas thinks it is. In fact, she said, “our members keep warning that inadequate levels of registered and enrolled nurses and appropriately trained care workers means that the basic care they can provide, including feeding and bathing, is being significantly compromised”.
What about the impact on Aged Care Providers?
Aged Care Lobby Group (ACLG) CEO Jerome Rault says there is more to this issue than just ratios. Jerome says that, “certainly some providers may have lower staffing than others per resident. Of course, if staff numbers are inadequate to provide proper care, that needs to be addressed immediately. Unfortunately, staff ratios are not an entirely accurate indicator of care quality. That’s because there are many other factors contributing to care quality”.
Staff ratios are not an entirely accurate indicator of care quality
The ACLG represents a list of privately owned aged care providers. Their services include lobbying government and a suite of public and media relations services specific to aged care.
Jerome listed a range of important issues that affect care quality, including:
- in-house quality programmes
- effective rostering for peaks & troughs
- staff qualifications
- ongoing staff training
- responsiveness to issues
- quality of facilities
- internal communications channels
- use of advanced technologies such as fall monitors
- management philosophies and more…
Jerome says, “we have a lot of experience with privately owned aged care providers. These providers’ livelihoods depend on providing top care. Our clients are not in this industry for pure profit. They are life long committed carers. In fact, many are multi-generational aged care providers. That is, the kids are now running their parents facility”.
He says it is not in their interests to cut corners. “When your family has built a business over decades. When your greater family relies on this business for it’s future. That has a huge effect on your decisions”.
The ALCG sounds a warning
The ACLG says that it commends Senator Hinch on his fight for the elderly. “Derryn Hinch is a true battler. Always ready to stand up for those who need it”.
However, they sound a warning. The ACLG says that this bill may address some of the issues about unethical providers understaffing. However, it could also put providers under increased financial duress. This would apply more so to small, family owned providers. They don’t have the resources of publicly listed & not-for-profit providers. In fact, many could go broke if they have to increase spending.
“We like the model of a mix of large and small aged care providers. Any monopoly of aged care would have a huge risk of abuse associated. A percentage of smaller, local, family owned care providers is vital to ensuring best care practices”.
Disclosure: ACLG is owned by Jerome Rault Media P/L, which also owns Aged Care Weekly.