THE Victorian government is ramping up pressure on the federal government to introduce staff-to-resident ratios in private aged care.
Families with loved ones in residential aged care in Bendigo have welcomed the push.
But federal aged care minister Richard Colbeck provided no assurance of change before the Royal Commission into Aged Care delivered its final report in February.
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The 2020-21 state budget, released today, included $40 million to help cover the cost of introducing staff-to-resident ratios in private aged care.
But was contingent on the Commonwealth Government coming to the table, as the primary regulator and funder of aged care.
There are nurse-to-resident ratios in Victoria's public aged care system, which the state's minister for ageing deemed "vital".
Bendigo resident Mandy Dromey, whose father has been in high needs residential aged care for almost three years, was strongly supportive of staff-to-resident ratios in the private system.
"We've been wanting to see it for a very long time to give us peace of mind that there is always sufficient staff," she said.
Dianne Metcalf, whose mother lives in the dementia ward at Royal Freemasons Bendigo, backed any help families could get for their loved ones in nursing homes.
She said there were three people working in the ward during the day and that still wasn't enough.
"They need more staff in these nursing homes," Ms Metcalf said.
"It's just not fair on our parents. They pay good money to be looked after."
Kaye Bearlin, who has a family member at Royal Freemasons Flora Hill, said staff were magnificent but were stretched.
"And it's such stressful work because there's not enough of them," she said.
She welcomed the state government's initiative.
"We're certainly hoping the Royal Commission will make ratios a very strong recommendation," she said.
"It will mean they have many more hours a day of one-to-one care from either a nurse or a personal carer, and it will mean staff have time to spend providing a higher level of care, a higher level of stimulation, and a higher level of oversight."
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Staffing has been a particular focus for Royal Freemasons families since the provider sought to restructure rosters in June.
Royal Freemasons later said rosters would remain unchanged while Victoria remained in a state of emergency.
"We need to learn the lessons of the pandemic which have starkly highlighted in Victoria by the disproportionate impact of COVID in the private facilities where there haven't been ratios, compared to the public facility where there have," Ms Bearlin said.
"Those figures speak for themselves."
The state government argued staff-to-resident ratios "would have made a significant difference" to the private sector's response to COVID-19.
The virus claimed the lives of 655 Victorians in residential aged care. A further 1331 residents recovered from COVID-19.
"Throughout the pandemic, there were just 15 positive cases in Victoria's public aged care, including three residents and no deaths, showing the value of our ratios," the Victorian government today said.
Mr Colbeck said the federal government was committed to a sustainable aged care sector and the delivery of high quality care to older Australians.
He recognised that the foundation for the provision of quality care was a skilled and supported workforce.
"The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is considering key issues around workforce and the Australian Government will respond to its findings when they are delivered in February," Mr Colbeck said.