Care minutes

The Australian Government is introducing mandatory care minute responsibilities for residential aged care from 1 October 2023. Learn about the care minute targets and mandatory responsibilities.

About care minutes

Care minutes refers to the care time that older Australians who live in government-funded residential aged 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 Australian Government is introducing mandatory care minutes in response to the 2021 final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The commission’s final report:

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

Care minutes delivered by RNs, ENs, and PCWs/AINs ensure safe and quality care is provided to residents at all times:

  • RNs provide nursing care including complex patient assessment, care plan development and evaluation of care
  • ENs provide nursing care as delegated by the RN such as patient assessment, wound management and administration of prescribed medications
  • PCWs/AINs assist with daily living routines and performs tasks as delegated by nurses.

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

Funding to meet care minutes

The Australian Government is providing extra funding to all residential aged care services to ensure they have an appropriate mix of RNs, ENs and PCWs/AINs and meet their care minute responsibilities.

From 1 October 2022, an extra $5.4 billion will be delivered over 4 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 responsibilities.

An additional $1.9 billion was announced in the October 2022–23 Budget to support providers 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 (3 months).

Casemix 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 an RN.

Each residential aged care service will have its own casemix 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 target calculation includes permanent and respite residents:

  • with classes based on an AN-ACC assessment (this does not include residents without an AN-ACC classification 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 registered nurese responsibilities guide for more information.

As a provider, you must meet your casemix-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 responsibilities

The initial care minute targets will:

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

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:

  • RNs
  • ENs
  • PCWs/AINs.

RNs and ENs 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. Government funding through AN-ACC includes funding for allied health and lifestyle services in addition to the care minutes funding.

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 responsibilities, see:

QFR video guides are available on our YouTube channel:

Compliance and auditing

Worked hours data for RNs, ENs and PCWs/AINs 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 responsibilities.

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 2023–24, we plan 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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