Elderly residents in Queensland’s 16 state-run residential aged care facilities (RACF) are set to benefit from better staffing and increased care hours, thanks to new legislation passed by the state government today.
The Health Transparency Bill 2019, which passed Parliament today, will mean Queensland’s 16 state-run RACFs will be required to provide a minimum 3.65 hours of nursing care to each resident per day.
Any state-run facility currently providing less than these hours – which is the state-wide average – will be required to increase its nursing hours, and any state-run facility that currently provides more than 3.65 hours will have their current hours maintained.
These facilities will also be required to be staffed with 30% Registered Nurses, 20% Enrolled Nurses, and 50% Assistants in Nursing.
Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Acting Secretary Sandra Eales said these new standards would ultimately mean better care for those residents in Queensland’s state-run RACFs.
“Nurses in state-run nursing homes will have more time to care for their residents,” Ms Eales said.
“This is in contrast to the private sector, which is plagued by chronic understaffing and cuts to nursing hours.”
The new legislation also increases the level of transparency across the entire private and public aged care sector.
“Consumers have been crying out for more transparency in the sector,” said Ms Eales.
“People want to know how their money is being spent, and whether it’s actually funding more nursing and better care.
“This legislation is a significant step towards achieving this.”
Under the new legislation, all Queensland RACFs – including the state’s estimated 400 privately run aged care facilities – will be asked to report vital information such as their daily resident care hours and staffing skill mix.
While private RACFs cannot be forced to report, those who fail to do so will be named and shamed on a public website.
Significantly, private health facilities, including hospitals, will also be required to report important information on quality and safety, including data relating to the facility’s performance against the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, percentage of patients being treated within clinically recommended timeframes, numbers of admitted patients, information about patient outcomes and information about infection management.
The QNMU has long called for real reform in the aged care sector, and is currently campaigning for the Federal Government to legislate minimum nurse-to-resident ratios across the country’s entire aged care sector.
“Queensland is leading the way when it comes to aged care reforms,” said Ms Eales.
“Rather than throw more money at the problem without linking it to better staffing or better accountability, as the Federal Government has recently done, these new Queensland laws address the core of the problem the aged care sector is currently facing – the need for more transparency, and more nursing hours so older Australians get the care they deserve.
“We welcome this new standard for staffing and care in Queensland’s 16 state-run RACFs, and call on the Federal Government to wake up and take real action to fix our country’s broken aged care sector.”