If re-elected, Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, will reintroduce her Private Member’s Bill to require the publication of staffing ratios in aged care facilities.
“Aged care is such an important issue in our electorate so if I am fortunate enough to secure the support of my community I will make this legislation one of first items on the agenda of the 46th Parliament,” Rebekha said.
“I have the oldest electorate in South Australia and the sixth oldest in the country and the message is clear, people are deeply concerned that many facilities do not have enough staff with the right qualifications to care for residents,” she said.
“My Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 secured the approval of the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport and the Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt who voiced his support in a letter to the Prime Minister in February this year.
“My legislation is a pragmatic step forward that will make residential facilities be upfront about their staffing levels.
“Requiring aged care providers to publish their staff-to-resident ratios by job description on the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website will assist people to make more informed choices when they investigate facilities for themselves or their loved ones.
“It is not the only way to increase transparency in this sector, but given that the industry has consistently resisted transparency when it comes to staffing numbers and qualifications, I do believe it will help.”
In response to suggestions from the Standing Committee, Rebekha will adopt two minor changes to her legislation, namely;
- Allowing consumers to compare aged care providers based on the level of care needed by their residents. The sector already has four recognised levels of care based on the physical and mental needs of clients which can be used as four categories.
- Providing for a comprehensive review within 12-months of implementation of the legislation in order to determine whether there should be further reporting on staff number differences during the day, night and over the weekend.
“My legislation is not a panacea for the issues besetting residential aged care but it is a sensible measure that can be implemented without waiting some time for the outcome of the Royal Commission into Age Care,” Rebekha said.
First ‘Dementia Friendly’ electorate office
In the meantime, Rebekha and her staff have taken steps to become the first documented ‘Dementia Friendly’ Federal Electorate Office in the nation.
The local MP and her team completed the short module provided by Dementia Friendly Communities to increase their understanding about dementia and to learn how to make a difference in the lives of people with dementia.
Dementia refers to a large group of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body disease, which cause a progressive decline in mental and physical functions.
Symptoms include a loss of memory, intellect, rationality and social skills.
“In 2018 where were an estimated 436,366 Australians living with dementia including 3456 people in Mayo,” Rebekha said.
“Nationally the figure will grow to 1.1 million by 2058 and in Mayo the number of sufferers will nearly double to 6279.
“People with dementia account for over 50 per cent of all residents in aged care facilities.
“Learning to recognise dementia and how to respond to and care for people with dementia is an important skill to have and is fairly simple to acquire through Dementia Friendly Communities.
“Everyone in my offices in Mount Barker and Victor Harbor is a ‘Dementia Friend’ and we encourage others to become one as well.