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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3571

Mrs Moylan asked the Minister for Ageing, in writing, on 4 February 2009:

Does her department accept the “Belmont” benchmark described in Mr John Bruce Martin’s petition to Parliament, lodged on 25 August 2008; if so, why; if not, why not.

Mrs Elliot (Minister for Ageing) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The relationship between staffing in aged care facilities and the quality of the care delivered is complex.  Currently there is considerable diversity in staffing arrangements across accredited facilities.  This suggests that it is not clear that there is a single optimum staffing level and mix, and that rather, there may be many sets of arrangements that, in response to their particular circumstances, provide quality aged care.

Under the Aged Care Act 1997 aged care providers are responsible for maintaining an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff and having in place a skills mix appropriate to the care needs of the residents.  Staff mixes will vary in individual facilities according to the nature of the care and service needs of residents, the mix of high and low care, the proportion of residents with dementia, etc.  These factors vary widely across aged care facilities.  Thus the number of staff that is appropriate for a given number of residents will vary from facility to facility and from time to time as changes in the mix of residents’ needs within a facility occur.

The Government has indicated that the issue of minimum staffing levels will be considered after the impact of the new Aged Care Funding Instrument on aged care financing is understood.  Since this will affect residents and their families, people who work in aged care, and care providers, the views of all of these groups will be sought.