Parliamentary Committee: Report into Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018

  • February 12, 2019

(18:13): I present the committee’s revised report on the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018, together with the minutes of proceedings.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

By leave—The advisory report on the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 follows on from the detailed work the committee undertook in the area of aged care in its October 2018 report as part of its inquiry into the quality of care in residential aged care facilities in Australia.

In recent times, instances of mistreatment have brought attention to the quality of care provided in residential aged-care facilities. The need to ensure that older Australians have access to high-quality residential care has prompted the committee to inquire into the conditions in Australian aged-care facilities.

Our first report identified the types of serious concerns which have led to the government establishing a royal commission into the aged-care sector. I note that this report is being tabled a day after the proceedings of the commission commenced, and we look forward to the outcomes of its work.

The committee recommends the passage of this bill, as its intention is to increase consumers’ access to information about staffing in aged-care facilities.

This aligns with the findings of the committee’s aged-care inquiry report, which highlighted that the provision of an appropriate number of staff is a critical component of the delivery of quality aged care. In our first report, the committee noted that the number of registered nurses employed, for example, in the aged-care sector, has declined over the last 15 years, despite the increase in the number of aged-care residents and the acuity of their health needs.

The committee, therefore, welcomes moves to increase transparency and assist consumers to make informed decisions regarding aged-care facilities.

During the inquiry concerns were raised that the publication of staffing ratios without contextual information and other quality measures would not provide consumers with a reliable or useful tool to assess different facilities.

The committee agrees contextual information should be developed by the Department of Health. Staffing ratios are not the sole determinant of the quality of aged-care services, and the profile and needs of aged-care centres will differ, in some cases markedly.

However, this should not become a hindrance to greater transparency and more meaningful consumer information. Residents and their families deserve access to this type of information about facilities which will effectively become their home for the remainder of their lives.

The committee reiterates that the publication of staffing ratios is not the only necessary improvement to the protections provided for older Australians living in aged-care facilities.

The committee anticipates the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will provide an opportunity to strengthen safeguards and enhance the quality of care provided to older Australians.

There have been many recent inquiries into the aged-care sector, so I would particularly like to thank the organisations and individuals who provided evidence to this inquiry. The continued engagement of so many organisations and individuals highlights both the importance of this issue and the passion and commitment of those who seek to improve Australia’s aged-care sector.

Finally, I would like to thank my fellow committee members, including the member for Mayo, whose bill is the subject of this report and who joined the committee as a supplementary member for the course of the inquiry. I also record my thanks to the staff of the committee for their support and consideration of the bill. The committee system would struggle without the dedication and professionalism of the staff who work for it.

I commend the report to the House.