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More than half of Australia’s aged care residents live in homes with staffing levels that only rate one or two stars when compared to the US’s five-star rating system, a research paper released by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has revealed.

Findings show 57% Australia’s aged care residents live in one or two-star homes, 27% in three-star homes, 14.1% in four-star homes and just 1.3% in homes rates as five star.

According to the report, raising the standard of Australia’s aged care homes so they rate at least three stars would require an average increase of 37.3% in total care staffing with the homes currently considered one or two stars.

This would require a 20% increase in total residential aged care staffing across the country.

The Royal Commission’s first research paper, titled Research Paper 1: How Australian residential aged care staffing levels compare with international and national benchmarks and released ahead of Melbourne hearing, was undertaken by the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong.

Staffing levels and skill mix in residential aged care are among the significant issues being explored by the Royal Commission.

The report examined staffing benchmarks used in the US, British Columbia in Canada, Germany, Victoria and Queensland.

It concluded the US has the best system currently available to evaluate staffing levels.

In the US, aged care homes are rated on a five-star scale, with three stars considered average, one to two stars below average, and four to five stars above average.

The ratings are formed by looking at the amount of nurse and personal care time each resident receives, taking into account differences in residents’ care needs.

When the US system was applied to Australia, the results showed 57.6% of all Australian aged care residents live in one or two-star homes.

The authors of the report believe one or two stars represent unacceptable levels of staffing, while three stars is acceptable, four stars is good, and five stars is best practice.

Click here to read the full research paper