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The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety final report has called for an overhaul of the existing system and to put the older person in the centre of the reforms with a right-based approach. The final report has dedicated a whole chapter on workforce and recommends better wages and remuneration for aged care workers, mandatory minimum qualifications for personal care workers, ongoing professional development for the aged care workforce, and minimum staff time standard for residential care. 

Is minimum staff time standard the answer to continuity of care? 

The final report recommends that from July 2022, a minimum of 200 minutes of care time is required per resident per day for the average resident, with at least 40 minutes of this staff contact time provided by a registered nurse. This minimum staff time standard is set to increase further by 2024.

While the intention of such recommendation is to address the relationship-based care that elders required, as Commissioner Briggs comments ‘older people get the best care from regular workers they know, who respect them and offer continuity of care as well as insights into their changing care needs and health requirements’; many are concerned if this truly address the issues of continuity of care.

With a large reduction in directly engaged care staff over the last few years and 23% of the remaining workforce planning to leave the aged care sector in the next 5 years, concerns are being raised about the ‘over-casualisation’ of the Aged Care sector, as a large portion of organisations are, and will continue to rely on casual staff to deliver care, and inevitably to fulfill the minimum staff time requirement.

Review existing workforce planning & rostering practices

There is no denial that the aged care sector has been understaffed for years, and some use of causal staff is inevitable. A recent report looking at Australian residential aged care staffing level suggested that the Aged Care workforce would need to grow by about 20% if the staffing recommendations set out in the report were adopted by the government. However, it is worthwhile for aged care providers to review their existing workforce planning and rostering practices and ask if they are really making the best use of their existing staff? Are all the shifts filled by causal staff truly necessary and can’t be filled by one of their existing team members? What processes can be streamlined so they can give staff time back to care? And more importantly, moving forward how can they help their staff to manage the increased complexity of rostering and reporting as the aged care reform unfolds? 

By simplifying or even automating the rostering process it can significantly reduce the admin time spent on putting the roster together; having access to real-time residents needs and staffing levels will enable facilities to redeploy staff from different areas to fulfill the ever-changing care needs without having to rely on causal staff; giving staff access to a live rostering system via mobile means they can respond to roster changes in real-time and pick up shifts anytime, anywhere. These are some of the systematic areas that are worth looking at in preparing for the upcoming changes.

Making plans without a plan

Until the release of the Federal Budget and the government provide more information regarding its priorities, implementation plan and funding support, there’s no clear roadmap yet on how the royal commission’s final report will transform the aged care sector. But as a leader, how do you make plans without a plan? How do you lead your workforce through such an uncertain time?

Join us at People Summit Australia on 28th April as we unpack this topic further with Patricia Sparrow, CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia and Richard Ainley, Partner, Health & Aged Care of PwC on what can aged care leaders do now to support their workforce through the unfolding reform and how to address the numerous workforce issues the aged care sector faces.

Come along to network with your peers, share your insights and experiences through the past 12 months, and hear how other industry leaders have responded to the issues raised. Click here to register for your free place at the virtual event!