Labor introduces bumper aged care legislation to Parliament, including star ratings and 24/7 nurses

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Aged Care Minister Anika Wells (pictured) has introduced two big aged care bills on the first full business day of the new Parliament, which include measures around 24/7 nursing and star ratings for residential care homes.

The two bills – the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 and the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 – make good on the Labor Government’s promise to bring aged care legislation before Parliament as soon as it reopened.

“This legislation delivers on the Government’s major reform agenda to protect the safety, dignity and wellbeing of every older Australian accessing aged care services,” said Mark Butler, Minister for Health and Aged Care.

The Implementing Care Reform Bill comprises three measures: 24/7 nurses in residential aged care; capping home care charges; and increased transparency of information.

“This Implementing Care Reform Bill will put nurses back into nursing homes; it will put a stop to high administration and management fees for home care, which means more dollars go to care and support; and it will improve integrity and accountability for residential aged care homes,” said Minister Wells.

The Bill states that exemptions may be granted to the 24/7 nursing requirement, though does not go into specific detail as to the circumstances that would warrant an exemption.

The Royal Commission Response Bill has nine measures:

  • Implementing the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) from 1 October;
  • Introducing star ratings for residential aged care homes;
  • Requiring a Code of Conduct and implementing banning orders;
  • Extending the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) to home and flexible care;
  • Introducing new governance responsibilities for approved providers;
  • Facilitating greater information sharing between Commonwealth bodies across the aged care, disability and veterans’ affairs sectors, and with worker screening units;
  • Increasing transparency around refundable deposits and accommodation bonds;
  • Expanding the functions of the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority; and
  • Introducing interim arrangements around restrictive practices.

The Labor Government is also assembling its submission to the Fair Work Commission on the proposed 25% wage increase for aged care workers, and Minister Wells has said that the issue of aged care worker pay isn’t going to be resolved “this winter”.

“This is going to take a while to turn the Queen Mary around. No one is under any illusions about that,” she told ABC Radio’s AM on Monday.