AMA calls for action on aged care staffing crisis

5 Mar 2020

The AMA has called on the Federal Government to act immediately to fix the crisis in the aged care workforce, following the recommendations of the Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

“Care can’t wait,” AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said.

“The submission by the Counsel Assisting clearly identifies the need for minimum staff-to-resident ratios, 24/7 nurse availability, and mandatory minimum qualifications for personal care workers.

“The AMA has long been calling for these measures. We cannot wait until the Royal Commission concludes to begin fixing the crisis.

“The AMA has consistently warned that the health and aged care systems are not equipped to deal with the growing ageing population, as Australians are living longer and with multiple chronic illnesses.”

The AMA also notes the Counsel Assisting’s concern of a lack of leadership and action on aged care issues by the Department of Health, despite clear policy recommendations to act upon from multiple inquiries and reports.

The Counsel Assisting recommendations include:

  • Mandating minimum staff-to resident ratios, and availability of registered nurses 24/7 in residential aged care facilities,
  • Disclosure and reporting on staffing levels, with greater transparency for consumers,
  • Minimum mandatory qualifications and a registration scheme for personal care workers, and
  • The Commonwealth taking the lead on aged care workforce planning.

The AMA welcomes the Counsel Assisting recommendations, including the Counsel Assisting’s specific calls for the Government to work with the AMA on a range of key workforce issues in its recommendations.

As part of the Care Can’t Wait Campaign, the AMA and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) are advocating for immediate action on:

  • mandatory minimum staff-to-resident ratios, including ensuring sufficient skilled nurses in residential aged care facilities (RACFs),
  • increased GP aged care Medicare rebates for patients to facilitate enhanced medical practitioner care of aged care residents, and
  • expanded home care investment to allow more older people to stay longer in their own homes and relieve pressure on residential aged care services.

The AMA Submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in September 2019 is available here.

The Counsel Assisting Submission is available here.

Read the full media release here.