Care minutes in residential aged care

As an approved provider of residential aged care, you must deliver a certain number of minutes of direct care per day to each resident, including by a registered nurse (RN). Read about care minutes, support for providers and calculating and reporting on care minutes.

About care minutes

Care minutes are the amount of direct care that older people living in residential care receive from:

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

The care minutes responsibility is based on a sector-wide average of 200 minutes of care per resident per day, including 40 minutes of direct RN care. 

See Section 3 of the Care minutes and 24/7 registered nurse responsibility guide for the types of activities that can be counted as direct care minutes.

See the Care minutes in residential aged care dashboard for an overview of the amount of care minutes reported across the sector.

Increase to care minutes and changes related to ENs from 1 October 2024 

From 1 October 2024, the care minutes responsibility will increase to a sector-wide average of 215 care minutes per resident per day, including 44 minutes of direct RN care. 

Also from this time, you will have the flexibility to meet up to 10% of your service-level RN targets with care time provided by ENs. For example, for a service with an RN target of 44 minutes, 4.4 EN minutes may be counted. 

This follows substantial stakeholder feedback including from:

  • providers
  • workers (particularly ENs)
  • worker representatives
  • older people
  • state governments 
  • the TAFE sector.

This 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 deliver your care requirements when facing workforce shortages. 

This change does not impact the responsibilities of nurses in your service. 

The care outcomes, which an EN contributes to, will continue under the delegation and supervision of an RN and is supported by the 24/7 RN responsibility. 

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia regulates the nursing profession in Australia. Read more about the scope of practice for nurses.

You will still be funded to meet your care minutes from 1 October 2024 as though the full 44 minute target is met by RNs, ensuring you have the option to meet your full nursing target with RNs.

Why it is important

Mandatory direct care minutes were introduced in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Mandatory care minutes ensure that older people in aged care homes receive the dedicated care time they need.

Support

The Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model funds the delivery of the care component of residential aged care, including direct care minutes. 

From October 2024, funding amounts will rise to help you meet the increase to 215 care minutes.

Service-level amounts of direct care minutes 

You must deliver a certain number of direct care minutes to residents each quarter. 

This responsibility applies to all permanent and residential respite residents in a service. 

There are exceptions for residents on long-term leave. See Section 4 of the Care minutes and 24/7 registered nurse responsibility guide.

You must also give older people proper care, based on their specific care needs in their individual care plan.

Calculating service-level care minutes targets

To work out the required amount of direct care minutes for your service, use the method set out in section 9 of the Quality of Care Principles 2014. A calculator is available to support you with this. 

We use the same method to work out the care minutes targets for each service. See Care minutes targets in residential aged care by service

You can also view your care minutes targets in the Government Provider Management System (GPMS).

Contact us if you have a query about your published care minutes target. 

Reporting

Your care minutes are determined from the care hours you report in the Quarterly Financial Report (QFR)

Care time reporting assessments check the accuracy of this data. 

Your direct care minutes will be determined from the hours provided by:

  • RNs
  • ENs
  • PCWs/AINs.

Care provided by both 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.

Work done by the following staff does not count towards direct care minutes: 

  • 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
    • maintenance  
    • gardening.

You may still be required to report information on those staff in the QFR.

We continuously review how direct care minutes data is collected in the QFR, including ways to improve these reports.

Read more about care minutes reporting in the QFR.

Compliance

We provide QFR data on your direct care minutes and 24/7 RN responsibility reporting to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) to support its regulatory work.

If you do not meet your direct care minutes responsibility, the ACQSC may take action to address your non-compliance.

Read:

Learn more

For providers

Care minutes and 24/7 registered nurse responsibility guide

This guide provides information about care minutes targets, the 24/7 registered nurse responsibilities from 1 July 2023, and mandatory care minutes responsibilities from 1 October 2023. Learn more about these responsibilities, including definitions and reporting obligations.

For older people

Dashboard

Contact

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.
Date last updated:

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