Melbourne Hearing 3 – aged care workforce

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Melbourne Hearing 3 will next week examine aged care workforce planning, the link between quality of care and staff numbers, education and training, pay, working conditions and career paths, the possible role of workforce registration, and innovation and technology.

On Monday, Professor Kathy Eagar, Director of the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, will give evidence that Australian residential aged care staffing levels compare poorly with international and national benchmarks.

She will refer to a report she co-authored, which was commissioned by the Royal Commission, entitled How Australian residential aged care staffing levels compare with international and national benchmarks. The report has been released today and is available to view on the Royal Commission website. In the report, the authors conclude that more than half of Australia's residential aged care facilities have unacceptably low numbers of staff.

The Royal Commission will hear evidence about work undertaken by Flinders University for the Australian Nursing Midwifery Foundation in relation to staff levels and skills mix. We will hear from Emeritus Professor Eileen Willis from Flinders University and Robert Bonner Director, Operations & Strategy at Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, SA Branch.  Kym Peake, Secretary of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, will give evidence about the Victorian approach to nurse-patient ratios in public sector aged care residential services.

In a case study, the Royal Commission will examine the circumstances of the Menarock Greenway Gardens facility, operated by Menarock Aged Care (Victoria) Ltd, which was sanctioned in February 2019, for failing to meet the standard relating to required staffing levels along with a number of other standards.

The Royal Commission will hear from two separate panels of experts who will explore the reforms needed in the vocational education and training, and tertiary education sectors.

The Royal Commission will examine the challenges of improving wages and conditions for the aged care workforce, through a panel of industrial officers and representatives from both unions and industry peak bodies.

Later in the week, the Royal Commission will hear from the Secretary of the Department of Health, Ms Glenys Beauchamp, and the First Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Reform and Compliance, Department of Health, Mr Charles Wann, about the Australian Government's views about workforce planning and other aspects of the aged care workforce.

Professor Sara Charlesworth, Professor Gender, Work & Regulation in the School of Management at RMIT University will give evidence of the gendered nature of aged care work undertaken by personal care attendants. Professor Charlesworth will say that our understanding of the work done by personal care attendants is premised on the notion that 'care' work is what women do innately, and for free, at home. 

In this hearing, the Royal Commission will examine how Japara Bayview managed an employee who was found to have engaged in misconduct on numerous occasions including assaulting vulnerable residents. The Commission will explore current mechanisms to respond to misconduct by aged care workers.  The Royal Commission will hear from the Victoria and Queensland health complaints bodies about how they are implementing the code of conduct for health workers in their respective jurisdictions. 

Evidence from Toni Hawkins, Board Member of Esperance Aged Care Facility in rural Western Australia will reveal that Esperance Aged Care constructed a new wing, at a cost of $7.1 million, to accommodate additional residents but cannot recruit the additional 40 staff required to open the wing.

Mr John Pollaers, who led the Aged Care Taskforce in 2018, which included a strategic action around workforce planning and skills mix modelling, will give evidence about the progress of the Taskforce's recommendations.

The hearing will commence at 9.15am on Monday 14 October 2019 and will be held at Court 4A, The Commonwealth Law Courts, 305 William Street, Melbourne.  

For more information about the hearing please consult the Hearings page on our website.

Proceedings can be viewed or listened to using the webcast on the Royal Commission website. Hearing transcripts will also be available at the end of each hearing day.

​Published on October 11, 2019.

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