Independent ACT Senator David Pocock welcomes the passage of the Aged Care (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 through the House of Representatives, following amendments agreed with the federal government.
The amendments relate to the 24/7 registered nurse requirement that will be placed on all aged care providers from 1 July 2023.
Senator Pocock thanks Aged Care Minister Anika Wells for the constructive way the government has engaged with him to put in place safeguards around the exemption to the 24/7 RN requirement provided for in the Bill.
Under the amendments proposed by Senator Pocock and moved by the Minister, the Government will now ensure that:
- any exemption to the 24/7 RN onsite requirement is time-limited and therefore the subject of a regular review process;
- considers the care arrangements in place for older Australians in the temporary absence of a 24/7 RN onsite; and
- publishes any decision to grant an exemption.
The amendments also make clear the Secretary is the authorised decision-maker for granting exemptions.
“The 24/7 registered nurse requirement, coupled with mandated care minutes, will significantly improve the quality of care provided to aged care residents,” said Senator Pocock.
“This was one of the major recommendations of the Royal Commission, and I’m pleased that the Government chose to prioritise this Bill as one of its first acts.
“Through the recent Senate Inquiry, I heard concerns from stakeholders around the Government’s exemption powers in the Bill.
“I heard concerns that it was technically possible for the Government to exempt providers perpetually from this requirement, which would defeat the purpose of even having it in the first place.
“The 24/7 nurse requirement should be universal. Older Australians should not have to accept a lower standard of care, just because of where they live.
“Given the workforce challenges, I appreciate that exemptions may be needed in the early days. But they should always be time-limited, so that 24/7 RNs remain the goal for all facilities.
“It was also important to me, and to the stakeholders that contributed to the Inquiry, to make sure that exemption decisions were being made transparently, in full view of the community and aged care watchdogs.
“I thank Minister Wells for being open to collaborating on this Bill. It’s so important we get the rules right in the interests of older Australians across the country.
“I look forward to supporting the Bill in the Senate.”