AMA and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation call for mandated nursing home staff ratios

6 May 2021

The AMA and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) are calling for Government to urgently mandate staff ratios of registered nurses in aged care and to act sooner than recommended by the Royal Commission to bring in 24/7 registered nurse (RN) cover in nursing homes. 

The Royal Commission’s Final Report recommends from July next year, minimum qualified staff time in nursing homes should be 200 minutes per resident per day – about three hours and 20 minutes – with at least 40 minutes provided by a registered nurse. This is a three-star model. 

It also recommends the minimum staff time standard require at least one RN on the morning and afternoon shifts from 1 July 2022, but has delayed the introduction of 24-hour RN staffing until July 2024. 

The five-star model is 264 minutes of care or more - four hours and 24 minutes - with 63 or more minutes with a RN. 

AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said that there is no reason why our older Australians should have to wait another three years until they have nurses available to care for them at all times. 

“With the average length of stay in a nursing home at two-and-a-half years, many residents who could benefit now will have died by 2024 and will have suffered needlessly in the meantime,” Dr Khorshid said.  

“Many nursing homes have insufficient numbers of registered nurses, leading older people’s physical conditions to deteriorate so badly they end up in hospital. Conditions like urinary tract infections, nutritional deficiencies and as we’ve seen, even gangrene could have been prevented in the first place. 

“The AMA’s new research paper, Putting Health Care Back Into Aged Care shows that once these entirely preventable conditions develop, older people end up in hospitals more frequently, and stay longer. We estimated on average people aged over 85 with potentially preventable conditions stay in hospital one-and-a-half extra days than people with non-preventable conditions – and that’s putting further pressure on our already over-stretched emergency departments. 

“The AMA and the ANMF have stood together before to say Care Can’t Wait and we believe the Government can do better – certainly our older people deserve better.” 

Read the full media release here.