The final Productivity Commission report is out. What’s in it for nurses?

The Caring for Older Australians Report has been released. What does it recommend to improve the working lives of nurses and AINs and the quality of care for our aged care residents?

On August 8 the Federal Government released the final Productivity Commission report – Caring for Older Australians.

What’s in the Report for nurses?

The Report recognised that staffing levels and skills were an issue in aged care, but did not want to be prescriptive for providers by regulating how many 'high skilled (or low skilled) workers' they employ.

Staffing levels and mix

The ANF submitted that there needed to be a guaranteed 4.5 hours per day of nursing and personal care for each resident per day.

PC Report Recommendations – There are numerous recommendations that include the establishment of a statutory body called the Australian Aged Care Commission (AACC). Its purpose amongst other things is ‘pay regard to fair and competitive wages and to consider appropriate mix and level of skills when setting their care charges’.

The Report recognised that staffing levels and skills were an issue in aged care, but did not want to be prescriptive for providers by regulating how many ‘high skilled (or low skilled) workers’ they employ.

As such, there is nothing of substance in relation to staffing levels or skills mix included in the Report!

Some other issues that were not addresses in the report are:

24 RN cover in residential care – not addressed.

Full time DON in all aged care facilities – not addressed.

Wages gap

The Productivity Commission Report acknowledges that:

  • Working in aged care is labour intensive;
  • Demand for aged care workers is high, and is expected to significantly increase over the next 40 years;
  • There are problems attracting and retaining workers in aged care;
  • A comprehensive workforce strategy needs to be developed;
  • Paying fair and competitive wages, developing career paths and improving access to education and training are issues;
  • Registered and enrolled nurses and AIN’s are relatively poorly paid compared to those performing similar roles in the public system, and the gap has been widening;

Again, the Report proposes that the Australian Aged Care Commission be established (AACC) as an independent mechanism for assessing the efficient cost of care and the cost of wages in this care (including competitive wages, skill mix and staffing levels).

If this body is established, it is proposed to be operative within the next 3 – 5 years.

BUT, Aged Care can’t wait 3 – 5 years to start fixing wages, care, staffing levels and skills mix! The Federal Labor Government must step in now and close the wages gap.

We will be going into further detail about the Productivity Commission’s report and what it fails to highlight in further blogs. In the meantime you can read it here.

Does the report frustrate you?

What are your major concerns that have not been highlighted in the report?

Image credit: NSWNA

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