New staffing clause in aged care standards

The Department of Health & Ageing has just released a draft to update the aged care standards for aged care services, which includes a new staffing clause that may improve nurse workloads.

The ANF welcomes the strengthening of a staffing clause in the recently-released draft standards for the accreditation of nursing homes, which appears to address workloads issues.

Where previously there was only a requirement for ‘appropriately skilled and qualified staff’, the new draft states ‘sufficient number and mix of competent and trained staff’ – a main area of lobbying by the NSWNA and ANF in the Because we care campaign.

‘This is one of the areas they have strengthened, so that’s a small gain and is in the right direction,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda. ‘Our lobbying has translated into this small gain.’

Two years ago, the Department of Health & Ageing released a first review of the standards, at which point the Association surveyed members about how the standards impact on aged care nurses.

‘Aged nurses are often part of doing the accreditation by getting the nursing home home ready for the accreditation process,’ said Judith Kiejda. ‘They often complain that the standards don’t reflect what is truly happening. Nurses say, “They came in and reviewed us and we got accredited, but we don’t always think we should have passed”.’

Other changes proposed are to reduce the four main standards to three, and the overall number of performance measures from 44 to 36. There is also an attempt to make the measures more person-centered, to emphasise residents’ rights, and to improve clarity for approved providers about their obligations.

‘While we support theses aims, our feedback is that the draft standards need more work, especially to ensure every single one is clear and measurable,’ said Judith Kiejda.

‘Overall, the ANF and NSWNA were concerned that the language continues to shift away from nurses and nursing, and refers instead to the healthcare teams, without specifying when that must include a Registered Nurse. People are predominantly in residential care due to complex care needs, and need their care to be led by RNs and supported by the right mix of nurses and care staff,’ said Judith.


The overall ‘statement of intent’ should set out the aim of identifying the accountability and quality expected of approved providers and the requirement to comply with all 36 standards.

The specific wording of the standards needs to ensure it makes the outcome measurable, rather than too open-ended. Two examples where changes were suggested for improvement are ensuring care plans meet the requirements of the Aged Care Act and its Principles, and adding more detail to OH&S items to include requirements for implementing management systems, staff training, and safe practices.

Adding a criterion related to business management to ensure that residents and their families are assured of good fiscal practices and protection of resident bonds.

Reference to ‘individuality, equality and diversity’ should specify intimate relationships, sexuality and gender identity. No mention is made of the right to intimate sexual relationships for older people in care, nor is there reference to the needs or rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The ANF/NSWNA response criticises the omission of referring to nurses in assessment, planning and delivery of care (examples are in items related to care planning, wound care, and referral).

For more information about the standards, contact Stella Topaz at the NSWNA on 8595 1234 or email n

Because we care website updated

The ‘Because we care’ website has been revamped and is now more interactive than ever, with online polls and links to directly lobby MPs.

Visit to check it out, stay up to date with what’s happening in aged care, and what you can do to help.