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'Inadequate staffing levels, inappropriate skill mix,' reports ANF.

The ANF has highlighted the concerns of its members about the current delivery of aged care services in residential settings. 'Inadequate staffing levels, inappropriate skill mix, excessive workloads, declining standards of care, and excessive documentation, are frequently reported,' it said.

'These concerns, combined with the differences in wages between the aged care and acute sectors, have all contributed to difficulties recruiting and retaining qualified nursing staff to work in aged care.

'Long-term reform in the aged care sector will not succeed without the provision of a robust, highly educated and skilled nursing workforce, transparency and accountability of funding, additional funding for wages and attractive career paths in aged care.'

ANF Recommendations

* The Australian Government fund the ANF to develop minimum standards that provide for staffing levels and skill mix in aged care settings.

* There is recognition of the professional skills of Assistants in Nursing, (however titled) through a national licensing system regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

* There is a mandated/legislated Federal requirement for 24-hour Registered Nurse cover for all high-care residents in aged care facilities, inclusive of those lowcare facilities with ageing in place.

* The Australian Government fund the development of a workload management tool for use in residential aged care to be linked to the existing Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI).

* The ACFIfunding model be reviewed by the Australian Government to enable the incorporation of Nurse Practitioners in aged care.

* The current regional and rural undergraduate and post-graduate scholarships, funded by the Australian Government for nurses working in aged care, be extended to include urban areas.

* A mechanism be developed by the Australian Government to monitor the use of funds by Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF) to develop and implement Graduate Nurse Programs in aged care.

* In line with the recommendation above, there is an acquittal system im plemented to ensure the money made available for the graduate nurse programs is directed to wages and educational support for graduates.

* The Australian Government determines a benchmark of the cost of care in aged and community care.

* The Australian Government close the wages gap between nurses and Assistants in Nursing, (however titled), working in aged care and their public hospital counterparts.

* That dedicated funding is made available by the Australian Government to close the wages gap, and that provision of the funding is conditional on the achievement and maintenance of wage parity.

* The Australian Government legislates for the introduction of annual reporting on the way aged care providers spend their funding, particularly on care activities and staff.

* The funding arrangements for accommodation and care components of aged care services be accounted for separately, using the ACFImodel.

* The aged care standards agency is required to use professional guide lines as benchmarks during accreditation.

* A national education program be developed by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency (ACSAA) to ensure consistent application of national benchmarks of its Accreditation Standards and Quality Care Principles to enable alignment of all processes, with the end result being the assurance of high-quality care to our frail elderly citizens.

* That compulsory benchmarks are federally legislated by the Australian Government in relation to occupational health and safety in residential and community aged care.

* That an independent Aged Care Complaints Commission be established with an Aged Care Complaints Commissioner appointed who will report directly to the Federal Minister for Ageing.
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Title Annotation:ANF/QACAG report to Productivity Commission: Aged care needs overhaul; Australian Nursing Federation
Publication:The Lamp
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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