What the Albanese Labor Government has committed to change in Aged Care

Friday, 01 July 2022

Registered nurses on site
Labor will require registered nurses on every shift, in every facility 24 hours per day. 24/7 registered nurses will become required from July 2023.

Staff numbers and guaranteed time with a registered nurse each day
Mandated minimum number of care minutes and staff. Labor will lift the average care time for each resident to 215 minutes per day – and will provide an average of an extra 35 minutes of care time per resident per day than current levels. This includes at least 44 minutes with a registered nurse.

The improved care-time standard will commence in October 2024. Labor will maintain the planned mandatory 200 care minutes date of October 2023 and then move to 215 care minutes.

Increasing wages for aged care workers
Labor will support workers’ calls for better pay and will formally participate in the work value case before the Fair Work Commission (FWC). Labor has committed to fully funding any pay increases awarded by the FWC.

Ensuring funding goes to care and creating a general duty of care for all residents
A new General Duty of Care – this will be a level of care and service that providers will need to guarantee for residents. It will be backed up with a compensation regime if the duty is breached. This will create a path for class actions against dodgy providers. 

Criminal and civil penalties for dodgy aged care providers
Criminal and civil penalties – including jail time – for dodgy aged care providers – these penalties will be for the most serious breaches of the General Duty of Care, such as:

  • Serious and repeated breaches.
  • Breaches that are found to be deliberate; and
  • Those that facilitate and cover up abuse and neglect.

This will help to punish and deter the very worst cases of substandard care and negligence.

A new Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
A new aged care complaints commissioner - to ensure complaints against providers are properly and thoroughly dealt with. Making sure there is a dedicated, accessible, and accountable process to help residents, families and aged care workers report and resolve issues and complaints. Labor will ensure the new complaints commissioner is in place by late 2022.

Protecting families, residents and workers who make a complaint
New civil penalties to protect people who make a complaint from retaliation. This change will protect people who stand up for residents’ rights – including whistle-blowers.

Stronger Investigative Powers
Labor will boost the powers of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. This will include powers to enter and remain in an aged care facility at any time, to ensure the safety of residents, as well as full access to documents and records. 

Transparency of funds given to aged care providers
Require providers to publicly report on the expenditure of residents’ and taxpayers’ money – Labor will require all aged care providers to provide a breakdown of their expenditure as part of the Aged Care Financial Report. Providers will be required to show how much is spent on care, nursing, food, maintenance, cleaning, administration, and profits.

Expenditure and care time reports will be made publicly available on My Aged Care and provided to residents and families. 

Food quality
New mandatory aged care food standards – to make sure aged care residents get real food, which is fresh, healthy, nutritious, tasty, and safe. The standards will respect cultural, religious, and dietary requirements.

Mandatory reporting rules – to make sure the Basic Daily Fee paid to providers is used for care and nutrition. Public reporting of expenditure on care, nutrition, food, kitchen staff and more will be required.

Professional development for personal care workers
Establishing a registration scheme for personal care workers to further professionalise the aged care workforce. It will include requirements for ongoing training, criminal history screening, English proficiency and a new code of conduct. The scheme will commence from mid-2023.

Creating permanent aged care jobs
Improving care continuity by requiring providers to preference direct employment.

Labor will reduce the high staff turn-over associated with an overreliance on temporary staff. Older Australians get the best care from regular workers that they can form strong relationships with. Regular workers also have far better insights into a person’s changing care needs and health requirements. To commence from January 2023.

 

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