Care minutes

Learn more about the mandatory care minute responsibility for residential aged care that began from 1 October 2023.

About care minutes

Care minutes refers to the amount of direct care that care recipients in Australia living in residential care services receive from:

  • registered nurses (RNs)
  • enrolled nurses (ENs)
  • personal care workers (PCWs) or assistants in nursing (AINs) – also known as nursing assistants.

The Government introduced mandatory amounts of direct 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 people in Australia receive
  • recommended introducing a care minutes responsibility to increase care time for people living in aged care homes across Australia
  • recommended linking minimum a care minutes responsibility to a casemix-adjusted funding model like the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC).

See the Care minutes and 24/7 registered nurse responsibility guide for information on the types of activities that specified direct care workers deliver that can be counted as direct care minutes.

The current method of working out the amount of direct care minutes takes into account a sector-wide average of 200 minutes of care per care recipient per day, including 40 minutes of direct care by an RN. It is anticipated that this will increase to a sector-wide average of 215 minutes (including 44 minutes of direct care by a RN) from 1 October 2024.

The AN‑ACC funding model funds the delivery of direct care minutes. From 1 October 2024, the Australian Government will provide additional funding to support approved providers of residential care services to meet the increase to 215 care minutes.

For more information on funding of direct care minutes, see the Care minutes and 24/7 registered nurse responsibility guide.

Service-level amounts of direct care minutes 

Approved providers of residential care services are required by law to ensure a certain amount of direct care minutes is provided to care recipients at a service each quarter, worked out in accordance with section 9 of the Quality of Care Principles 2014.

This responsibility applies to all care recipients in a service except where a care recipient is on extended hospital leave on the day, and the day is on or after the 29th consecutive day of that leave. In this instance, the amount of direct care minutes will include the first 28 days of that care recipient’s extended hospital leave, but not the 29th or subsequent days of that leave.

You must also give care recipients adequate care based on their specific care needs in line with their individual care plan.

See the Care minutes and 24/7 registered nurse responsibility guide for more information.

Calculation of service-level care minutes targets

Approved providers of residential care services are required by law to ensure a certain amount of direct care minutes is provided to care recipients at a service each quarter, worked out in accordance with section 9 of the Quality of Care Principles 2014.

We use the method set out in section 9 to work out the required amount of direct care minutes for each service, which we then make publicly available and available to providers through the My Aged Care services and support portal on the 15th of the month prior to the start of the quarter.

Approved providers of residential care services should contact us if there appears to be an error with the amount of direct care minutes we have published in respect of a service.

care minutes target calculator is available to assist with this. Further guidance on how to calculate care minute targets is  included in the Care minutes and 24/7 registered nurse responsibility guide.

If approved providers do not meet their direct care minutes responsibility, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission may take compliance action to address the approved provider’s non-compliance.

Care minutes in aged care contact

Contact us if you have concerns about the accuracy of the care minutes targets in the My Aged Care service and support portal.

Care minutes reporting

You should only report on the amount of direct care minutes of the following staff members in the Quarterly Financial Report (QFR):

  • RNs
  • ENs
  • PCWs/AINs.

Both care provided by employees and agency staff will count towards the amount of direct care minutes.

RNs and ENs must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

The amount of direct care minutes reported in the QFR do not include the time of:

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

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

Find more information on care minutes reporting.

Data collection, quality assurance and reporting assessments

We are responsible for collecting and ensuring the accuracy of:

  • the data in relation to the amounts of direct care provided to care recipients by RNs, ENs and PCWs/AINs through the QFR
  • 24/7 RN data through the monthly 24/7 RN reporting.

Care time reporting assessments check the accuracy of the above data. We aim for every approved provider of residential care services to undergo a reporting assessment by 1 April 2025. 

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is responsible for regulating approved provider responsibilities, including the 24/7 RN and direct care minutes responsibilities. The information from the QFR in relation to amounts of direct care minutes and the 24/7 RN reporting will be provided to the commission to support its regulation of these responsibilities.

Read more about the commission’s approach to regulating workforce responsibilities.

See also the letter from Minister Wells to Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson about care minutes compliance.

Information about care minutes for older persons

For information for older persons, their families and carers on the amount of direct care minutes, see Care minutes in aged care homes.

Date last updated:

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