Better Care

  • Labor will put nurses back into nursing homes. With a registered nurse in every home – 24/7 – and increased care time.

  • Aged care is in crisis. Too many Australians are being stranded in soiled beds, denied adequate help to shower and eat, or are missing out on basic wound care and medication management.

  • Labor will ensure dedicated nursing home staff have the time they need to care.

Why do we need this?

Older Australians helped build this country - working hard, paying taxes and raising families.

But the Aged Care Royal Commission found unacceptable staffing levels in over half of all nursing homes. And the pandemic exposed the tragic consequences of nursing home staff being stretched beyond the limit.

Aged care workers regularly report that, in some cases, just one staff member has been left to care for up to 40 residents.

Inadequate staffing means dedicated nurses and care workers are forced to make heart-breaking decisions every day about who will receive care now and who will have to wait.

Too often, residents are being left in soiled pads, waiting too long when they call for assistance and not being helped to the toilet in time. Avoidable falls, substandard care and accidents are too common. People are also missing out on regular showers, help to eat and assistance to organise phone and video calls with family and friends.

The Royal Commission concluded that the aged care workforce was the foundation to any successful reform in aged care. They said that high quality aged care ‘cannot be achieved without having enough staff’.

Despite these clear calls for action, the Morrison Government has refused to deliver the Royal Commission’s recommendations for increased nurses and care workers.

Aged care workers are simply not paid enough for the crucial work they do.

Without action on workforce, nothing will change for the 1 in 2 aged care residents who complained about understaffing, unanswered call bells, high rates of staff turnover and agency staff not knowing them or understanding their needs.

The details

Labor will return dignity to aged care and better support workers by:

  • Putting nurses back into nursing homes 24/7 – Labor will lift care and quality standards and improve health outcomes by making it mandatory to have a registered nurse onsite 24 hours a day in residential aged care facilities. This was a key recommendation of the Aged Care Royal Commission which was ignored by the Morrison Government. 24/7 registered nurses will become required from July 2023.

  • Lifting the average care time for each resident to 215 minutes per day, including 44 minutes with a registered nurse – Labor will provide an average of an extra 35 minutes of care time per resident per day than current levels. This was a key recommendation of the Aged Care Royal Commission which was ignored by the Morrison Government. This means more time for meals, showers, dressing, wound management and much more. This improved care-time standard will commence in October 2024. Labor will maintain the planned mandatory 200 care minutes date of October 2023.

  • Backing a real pay rise for aged care workers – Labor will support workers’ calls for better pay with a submission to the work value case, which is before the Fair Work Commission. A Labor Government will fund the outcome of this case. If we don’t address low pay, we won’t be able to recruit the workforce we need to provide safe, quality care to a growing number of older Australians.

  • Establishing a registration scheme for personal care workers – Labor will establish a national registration scheme for protecting residents and further professionalise the aged care workforce. It will include requirements for ongoing training, criminal history screening, English proficiency and a new code of conduct. This will implement another important recommendation of the Aged Care Royal Commission which has been ignored by the Morrison Government. The scheme will commence from mid-2023.

  • Improving care continuity by requiring providers to preference direct employment – Labor will reduce the high staff turn-over associated with an overreliance on temporary staff. Older Australians get the best care from regular workers that they can form strong relationships with. Regular workers also have far better insights into a person’s changing care needs and health requirements. Labor will work with providers, workers and unions on the implementation of the direct employment preference, to commence from January 2023.

This investment in aged care will total $2.5 billion over the forward estimates.

Labor’s plan for fee-free TAFE and 20,000 extra university places will support an increase in nurses and care workers in aged care, and help more Australians to start a rewarding career.