Gov announces that Enrolled Nurse care minutes can be included in RN targets

Published on 21 May 2024 (Last updated on 22 May 2024)

The Government has made a surprise announcement about RN care minute inclusions. [Shutterstock]

The Federal Government made a surprise announcement on Tuesday afternoon, revealing to residential aged care providers that a portion of the care time provided by Enrolled Nurses (EN) can be included in Registered Nurse (RN) targets from October 1, 2024.

Currently, care time provided by ENs, personal care workers (PCW) and assistants in nursing (AIN) count toward a facility’s total care minutes time, but is separate from the direct RN care time requirements.

Come October, the sector-wide average of 200 minutes of care per resident per day, including 40 minutes of direct RN care, will rise to 215 minutes, including 44 minutes of direct RN care.

With many providers still fighting to meet RN their case-mix-adjusted RN minutes, the Government announced that providers can also meet 10% of their RN target with care time delivered by an enrolled nurse (EN) from October 1.

“This small adjustment recognises the important role of ENs in aged care and will improve recruitment and retention of these skilled workers. It will also help you to meet your care minutes if you are facing RN workforce shortages,” read the Department of Health and Aged Care’s statement.

“This adjustment has been informed by stakeholder feedback including from providers, workers (particularly ENs), worker representatives, older people, state governments and the TAFE sector.”

The announcement is a big win for industry stakeholders who have long been calling for a dedicated recognition of EN contributions in care minute totals

Rachel Wassink, a Registered Nurse and the Director of Social Care and Health at RMIT University, previously told hello leaders that by ignoring EN contributions the Government could impact care minute sustainability. 

“ENs are a high-value part of our healthcare system and we need to debunk some of the myths around how much they contribute to the high quality of care they provide working in consultation with a Registered Nurse,” she explained.

“The Government has heavily invested in the training and upskilling of people into the role of the Enrolled Nurse, now it just seems like they’ve been left out.”

Providers will still be funded to meet their care minutes from October 1, 2024 as though the full 44 minute target is met by RNs, meaning providers can still achieve their full nursing target with RNs where possible.

In other news, the Department announced that from July 1, 2024, providers must meet a new RN coverage threshold to receive the 24/7 RN supplement.

“The registered nurse coverage threshold will increase to an average of 21 hours a day or 87.5% of total hours for the month. You may get 50% of the supplement if you average up to 30 residents per month with at least 50% (but less than 87.5%) RN coverage,” they stated.

“From 1 October 2024, you will get more funding to meet your care minutes. We will be reducing the supplement rate at this time. You may get it if you have up to an average of 50 residents.”

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