Care minutes

The Australian Government is introducing mandatory care minute standards for residential aged care. Learn about the care minute targets and mandatory requirements.

About care minutes

Care minutes refers to the time that older Australians who live in government-funded residential aged care services, receive care from:

  • registered nurses
  • enrolled nurses
  • personal care workers.

The government is introducing mandatory care minutes in response to the 2021 final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The royal commission’s final report:

  • identified staffing levels as vital to the quality of care that older Australians receive
  • recommended introducing minimum care minutes requirements to increase care time for the people living in aged care homes across Australia
  • recommended linking minimum care minutes requirements to a casemix-adjusted funding model like the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model.

Care minutes delivered by registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and personal care workers ensure safe and quality care is provided to residents at all times:

  • registered nurses provide higher-level clinical nursing care such as assessing patients, administering medication and developing care plans
  • enrolled nurses perform nursing tasks such as providing treatments and therapies, and free up care time for registered nurses to focus on higher-level nursing
  • personal care workers assist with daily living routines but cannot perform nursing-specific tasks.

See the Care minutes and 24/7 nursing requirements guide for more information on care minutes workers and activities.

Funding to meet care minutes

The government is providing extra funding to all residential aged care services to have an appropriate mix of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers to meet their care minutes requirements.

From 1 October 2022, an extra $5.4 billion will be delivered over four years, through the AN-ACC funding model. This is to support:

  • an increase to the amount of care minutes that residents receive
  • providers to attract and retain enough care staff to meet new care minutes requirements.

In the October 2022–23 Budget, the government announced an additional $1.9 billion to support providers to meet the requirement to deliver 215 care minutes per resident per day (from 1 October 2024). This includes $0.8 billion in 2024–25 and $1.1 billion in 2025–26.

Find your care minutes targets

The government introduced care minutes targets for all residential aged care services on 1 October 2022. You can see the quarterly care minutes targets for each service you run in the My Aged Care Service and Support Portal.

The targets indicate the amount of care in minutes you must give residents, once the targets become mandatory. The targets are based on the AN-ACC classes for residents who were in care over the last quarter (three months).

Case-mix adjusted care minutes targets

The initial care minutes target is a sector wide average of 200 minutes of care per resident per day. This includes 40 minutes from a registered nurse.

Each residential aged care service will have its own case-mix adjusted care minutes targets. These are care minute targets based on the mix of residents in that service. For example, services with residents that mainly have:

  • low care needs will have lower average care minutes targets
  • higher care needs will have higher average care minutes targets.

The care minutes targets calculation includes residents:

  • with classes based on an AN-ACC assessment (this does not include residents with a “default class” at the time of the calculation)
  • who are on leave (these residents are funded so the care minutes are included in the target for the next quarter when the resident returns to the facility).

See the Care minutes and 24/7 nursing requirements guide for more information.

As a provider, you need to meet your case-mix-adjusted care minutes targets ‘on average’ across the service.

You must give residents care time based on their specific care needs, in line with their AN-ACC classification and individual care plan.

Mandatory requirements

The initial care minutes targets will:

  • become mandatory from 1 October 2023
  • increase to a mandatory sector wide average of 215 minutes (including 44 minutes of registered nurse time) from 1 October 2024.

From 1 July 2023, providers must also have a registered nurse onsite and on duty 24 hours a day. A supplement is available to eligible providers to help with meeting this requirement.

Care minutes reporting

You can only include the direct care activities of eligible staff as care minutes in the Quarterly Financial Report (QFR). These staff include:

  • registered nurses
  • enrolled nurses
  • personal care workers.

Registered nurses and enrolled nurses must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Care minutes do not include the time of:

  • allied health staff
  • lifestyle and recreational staff
  • other aged care staff who work in catering (including plating and serving), hotel services, facility and room cleaning, maintenance and gardening.

You cannot include the activities of these staff as care minutes in the QFR. The government funds their services separately through AN-ACC.

We are reviewing how care minutes data is collected in the QFR and the Aged Care Financial Reports, including options for ways to improve these reports.

For more information on care minutes reporting requirements, see:

QFR video guides are available on our YouTube channel:

Compliance and auditing

Worked hours data for registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers collected through the QFR are monitored by the department.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will have extra powers to enforce the care minutes standards and reporting requirements.

Data collected will be provided to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. They may use this information, along with other regulatory intelligence to monitor the right nursing skills mix within services. This includes having an appropriately qualified enrolled nursing workforce.

Residential aged care providers that do not have an appropriately skilled workforce are at risk of not meeting Aged Care Quality Standard 7. Non-compliance with this standard may lead to regulatory action by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

In 2023-34, the department plans to introduce an ongoing program of audits to monitor care minutes data reported by providers. This will involve cross- checking information submitted in the QFRs and the ACFRs, against other information sources.

Appropriate compliance action may be taken where non-compliance is identified.

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