As of mid-next year, all residential aged care homes will be required to have a registered nurse on duty 24/7 and each resident will get 200 care minutes per day, 40 minutes of which must be from a registered nurse.
Some residential aged care providers have found a ‘loophole’, by firing enrolled nurses, as there are no minimum minutes for enrolled nurses, only registered nurses. These providers are beginning to replace enrolled nurses with personal care assistants that have lower salaries, which helps them to be more profitable at the expense of the level of care they provide. Providers exploiting this say that there is inadequate funding for enrolled nurses under the new reforms, and so they have resorted to firing these staff.
One proposed measure to prevent this loophole from being exploited is for the government to allocate minimum care minutes for enrolled nurses, like they did with registered nurses. Aged care minister Anika Wells is considering this idea seriously because she knows that enrolled nurses play a very important role and if they’re lost, a lot more pressure will fall on registered nurse.
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