Simple things missed in care

Toileting, tooth brushing missed because of inadequate aged care staffing

Around the States

New research highlights the type of care missed or rationed because of inadequate aged care staffing.


Toileting and oral care are two things most likely to fall through the gaps in aged care.

New research by the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, studied unfinished care in residential aged care facilities.

Published in The Gerontologist, it analysed published literature in peer-reviewed journals and academic databases that discussed unfinished care in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, Canada and the United States.

The research points to inadequate staffing levels as the main reason for missed or unfinished care, which is in line with findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

"Helping a resident go to the toilet or brush their teeth is the type of care most likely to be missed in aged care facilities," said lead author Kristiana Ludlow.

She said the research showed that when workload demands are greater than the available time and resources, staff are forced to make decisions about what care they provide, and what is missed.

The most commonly reported activities missed or rationed or assigned a lower priority were:

ASSISTANCE toileting or changing incontinence pads;

COMMUNICATION with residents and family;

MOUTH care and oral hygiene;

PATIENT surveillance;

GENERAL mobility.

The factors most associated with unfinished care were:

STAFF levels (including staff availability);

SKILL mix of staff;

ACCESS to supplies and equipment;

COMPLEXITY of residents' needs.

Strengthening oversight

The role of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will be strengthened from January 1.

The Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019 expands the commissioner's role to include oversight of:

APPROVING all residential and home care providers;

AGED care compliance and enforcement actions;

ADMINISTRATION of the responsibilities of approved providers to report assaults.

"The commissioner will now have the ability to approve providers' entry into aged care, stronger powers to monitor quality of the care and broader responsibility to enforce provider compliance," said Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck.

"If a provider is not delivering the care older Australians deserve, the commissioner can impose sanctions, including revoking commonwealth subsidies."

The commission will have additional powers to seek information from providers related to their suitability to deliver services and financial management.