24/7 Registered Nurse Cover and Care Minutes

A New Era in Aged Care: 24/7 Registered Nurse Cover and Care Minutes

24/7 Registered Nurse Cover and Care Minutes

The landscape of aged care in Australia is undergoing a significant transformation with the implementation of two critical mandates – 24/7 registered nurse (RN) cover and care minutes. These changes, driven by recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, aim to enhance the quality of care provided to older Australians in residential aged care homes. In this post, we will explain these mandates and their implications for both aged care providers and the elderly residents they serve.

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24/7 Registered Nurse Cover

Starting from July 1, 2023, residential aged care homes across the country will be required to have a registered nurse on-site and on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This crucial step is designed to ensure that residents have access to skilled nursing care at any time of the day or night, enhancing their safety and well-being.

The introduction of 24/7 RN coverage acknowledges the vital role nurses play in providing prompt medical attention, administering medications, and responding to emergencies. While this mandate represents a significant commitment for aged care providers, it is a pivotal step in ensuring that residents receive the highest standard of care, regardless of the hour.

Care Minutes Mandate

From October 1, 2023, residential aged care homes will also be required to deliver a minimum of 200 care minutes per resident per day, with 40 of these minutes provided by a registered nurse. Care minutes encompass the direct care time delivered to residents by registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and personal care workers, including nursing assistants.

This mandate recognises the importance of adequate time and attention to each resident’s care needs. It emphasises that care should not be rushed or compromised and that individualised care plans must be tailored to meet the specific requirements of each resident, as determined by their AN-ACC classification.

Regulation and Oversight

The implementation of these mandates comes with increased regulatory oversight to ensure compliance. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) will play a pivotal role in regulating workforce-related responsibilities, including 24/7 RN coverage and care minutes.

To assist providers in understanding these changes and their regulatory obligations, the ACQSC hosted a webinar in April 2023, featuring key experts from the field. Additionally, the Commission has released a Regulatory Bulletin providing guidance on how it will regulate these new responsibilities.

Challenges and Solutions

It’s important to acknowledge that these mandates present challenges for aged care providers, especially those located outside urban population centres. Attracting and retaining a suitably qualified workforce to meet 24/7 RN coverage requirements can be a significant challenge. Providers are urged to explore the support and resources available to help them comply with these mandates, including the 24/7 RN supplement offered by the Department of Health and Aged Care.

The Road Ahead for Aged Care

As we move forward into this new era of aged care, it’s crucial to keep the well-being of elderly residents at the forefront. The Royal Commission’s emphasis on staffing levels and care minutes underscores the commitment to providing the highest quality of care to our seniors.

Aged care professionals, providers, and regulators all play pivotal roles in ensuring the successful implementation of these mandates. Together, we can create a safer, more nurturing environment for older Australians, where their health, dignity, and quality of life are paramount. For more detailed information and resources on these changes, visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

These mandates represent a significant step toward improving aged care services in Australia, aligning them with the evolving needs and expectations of our aging population. They signal a commitment to delivering exceptional care and support to the elderly, safeguarding their well-being around the clock, and ensuring they receive the care they truly deserve.

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