Home truths about staffing levels

3 Nov 2018 10:43 AMJen Fitzgerald
Home truths about staffing levels

Research has shown what all aged care workers already know- missed care is rife and residents require more hours of care for quality well being.

With the Royal Commission underway for the next 18 months, the spotlight will be on staffing ratios. Everybody says it, everybody knows it but the industry has never done anything about it due to many factors. Mostly because it is not government enforced. There are no mandatory ratios like the childcare industry.

It’s not just aged care workers crying in vain now there is proof. Research from Flinders University shows, in a large-scale study, that staff ratios are the key to the health of the aged care system.

The 2016 research surveyed 3206 aged care workers asking questions about the frequency of missed care. There were 10 categories of care and the results table showed that all categories were regularly missed (see the table in the original article- link below.) The two categories with the higher rate were; toileting within 5 minutes of the call bell and social and behavioural needs of residents.

This is not indicative of poor quality care. This shows a basic lack of staff to answer bells quickly.  Also a lack of time for staff to spend with residents caring for more than just personal needs.

Another part of the research was determining how many hours of care residents needed. The results found that 60% of aged care residents required four or more hours of care per day.

This matches the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation recommendations that residents should receive 4 hours and 18 minutes of care per day.

In 2015 another study found that residents in Australian aged-care facilities received an average of 2.86 hours per resident per day which is significantly below the recommended number of hours.

2.86 hours! That would include personal care, meals, room care and toileting. That’s it!

The study results will be no surprise to any aged worker but it is this kind of research, presented to a Royal Commission, that may turn the tide.

Read the original article>> The article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Research source: Julie Henderson, Eileen Willis, Flinders University