Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10351

Dear Mrs Irwin

Thank you for your letter of 4 September 2008 to the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, enclosing a petition about a benchmark for the minimum ratio of personal care assistants to residents in aged care homes. Your letter has been referred to me as the Minister for Ageing.

The people working in aged care homes are an important part of the care that is provided. The presence of an appropriately skilled and motivated workforce in aged care is a key part of providing the high quality of aged care that older Australians deserve.

Under the Aged Care Act 1997 aged care providers are responsible for using Australian Government subsidies to ensure that there are adequate numbers of appropriately skilled staff to meet the individual care needs of residents. Providers must have in place arrangements for the ongoing development of staff skills to ensure quality of care continues to be delivered.

The relationship between staffing in aged care homes and the quality of the care delivered is complex. Currently, there is considerable diversity in staffing arrangements across accredited homes. 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.

This Government implemented the new Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) on 20 March 2008, which replaces the Resident Classification Scale as the means for providing Government subsidy to aged care homes. The Government is committed to reviewing the impact of the new ACFI including examining staffing levels in aged care homes to ensure they are based on the care needs of residents.

To assist in the provision of quality care, the Government has announced an additional 450,000 vocational education and training (VET) places as part of the Skilling Australia for the Future program. In March 2008, the Council of Australian Governments agreed to deliver, over three years from 2008-09, up to 50,000 of the additional VET places for areas of national skill shortage in health occupations. Some of these places will go to training additional personal care workers. Increased qualification rates among personal care workers will contribute to improvements in the quality of aged care services.

I trust that the above information is of use.

from the Minister for Ageing, Mrs Elliot, to a petition presented on 1 September by Mrs Irwin (from 15 citizens)