Queensland legislates ratios in public aged care homes

The Queensland government has legislated minimum nurse-to-resident ratios across its 16 state-run public aged care homes, delivering on its promise to ensure elderly residents receive the care they need and deserve.

Passed in Parliament yesterday, the Health Transparency Bill 2019 will make it mandatory for Queensland’s state-run residential aged care facilities (RACF) to provide a minimum of 3.65 hours of nursing care to each resident per day.

Any facility currently providing less than these hours, the state-wide average, will be required to boost its nursing hours, while facilities that already provide more than 3.65 hours will have their levels maintained.

It will also be compulsory for facilities to be staffed with a skills mix of 30% registered nurses, 20% enrolled nurses and 50% assistants in nursing.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Acting Secretary Sandra Eales welcomed the passing of the legislation and said the new laws would lift the standard of care residents living across the state’s public aged care homes receive.

“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 introduces a framework for increased transparency across the state’s entire public and private aged care sector.

Under the legislation, all Queensland RACF – including some 400 privately run homes – will be called on to report information such as daily resident care hours and staffing skill mix.

While private aged care homes are not forced to report, those who fail will be named and shamed on a public website.

Further, private health facilities, including hospitals, will also be required to divulge information regarding quality and safety, such as the number of patients treated within clinically recommended timeframes, infection management and patient outcomes.

On the back of the legislation, the QNMU believes it is time for the federal government to follow suit and step up to take real action to fix aged care.

“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.”

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