This article applies to organisations that are ‘approved providers’ of Commonwealth funded aged care services.
Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Act 2022 (Cth)
Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Registered Nurses) Principles 2023 (Cth)
On 1 April 2023, the remaining parts of the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Act 2022 (Cth) (the Amending Act) amended the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) (the Act).
To coincide with the commencement of the remaining parts of the Amending Act, on 1 April 2023, relevant parts of the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Registered Nurses) Principles 2023 (Cth) (the Amending Principles) amended the Quality of Care Principles 2014 (Cth) (the QC Principles).
Requirement to have at least one registered nurse on site 24/7 from 1 July 2023
In response to the findings and recommendations of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and to reduce the risk of harm to residents, the Amending Act has introduced section 54-1A to the Act which is a new obligation for approved providers of residential care or flexible care in residential facilities.
From 1 July 2023, approved providers of residential care or flexible care provided to care recipients in a residential facility, must have at least one registered nurse (within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth) (the HI Act) on site and on duty, 24 hours, 7 days a week. A registered nurse as defined by the HI Act means a person who is registered under the National Law in the nursing profession as a registered nurse.
Importantly, section 15Q of the QC Principles makes provision for an exemption to this new rule to be granted by the Department of Health and Aged Care (Department) to approved providers in relation to a residential facility. The Department have noted on their website that residential aged care facilities with 30 or fewer operational beds in Modified Monash Model (MMM) 5–7 locations with appropriate alternative clinical care arrangements in place, may be eligible for an exemption from the 24/7 RN responsibility for up to 12 months from 1 July 2023. We note that applications for an exemption must be made using the approved exemption form on the Department’s website here.
Approved providers of residential care and flexible care in a residential facility should ensure relevant staff are made aware of the new staffing requirement to have at least one registered nurse on site and on duty, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Moreover, (unless an exemption applies to your organisation), approved providers should implement systems to ensure that this new staffing requirement is in place by 1 July 2023.