Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured above) famously pronounced back in July that he would not want his own mother in one of the For Profit and Not For Profit providers that had been hit by COVID outbreaks in Victoria’s second wave – now he’s taking action.
In a first for Australia, the Victorian Government has said it will provide $40 million in funding to help cover the cost of introducing minimum staff-to-resident ratios in ‘private aged care’ – if the Commonwealth Government as the primary regulator and funder of aged care also comes to the table.
The Labor Government’s contribution would cover the clinical student training placement costs for thousands of extra registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers that would be required.
The Diploma of Nursing and Cert III in Individual Support and Cert IV in Ageing Support would also continue to be included on the Free TAFE courses list to reduce the costs for Victorians wanting to enter the aged care workforce.
Andrews says staff-to-resident ratios would have made “significant difference” during second wave
In a statement, Mr Andrews made it clear that the move was being driven by the COVID pandemic, saying it had “thrown the safety and wellbeing of our loved ones in some private aged care facilities into sharp relief”.
“The findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety showed the private sector aged care system had seen ‘insufficient’ preparations for the pandemic. We believe that staff-to-resident ratios would have made a significant difference had they been in place this year,” he said.
The Premier stressed that Victoria’s public aged care facilities had only 15 positive cases during the pandemic, including three residents and no deaths – which he attributed to its staffing ratios.
“That’s why we’re calling on the Commonwealth to implement ratios in private and not-for-profit residential facilities – bringing them into line with Victoria’s public aged care sector – and supporting the providers and hardworking staff doing their best in an already stretched system,” the statement reads.
“If the Commonwealth agrees, the introduction of staff-to-resident ratios would vastly improve the quality of care in private residential aged facilities.”
Federal Government would need to kick in majority of funding
Victoria was the first state in Australia to introduce nurse-to-resident ratios in its state-run aged care homes in 2015 – of one nurse to seven residents plus one nurse in charge for morning shifts; one nurse to eight residents plus one nurse in charge for afternoon shifts; and one nurse to 15 residents on night shifts.
Government-run aged care homes make up around 10% of Victoria’s aged care homes.
$40 million will not go far however when staffing costs make up over 70% of providers’ costs.
How likely is it that the Federal government will come to the party?