South-west aged care facilities struggling to employ enough registered nurses are seeking an exemption from new rules around 24-hour care.
By July 1 a registered nurse needs to be on site 24/7 but a number of aged care facility bosses say that despite their best efforts, they can't get staff.
Mortlake's Aberlea and Camperdown's Sunnyside House, along with eight other rural facilities who are in the same boat, have written to the federal government seeking an exemption.
Exemptions have already been granted to 191 facilities across Australia who have 30 beds or less, but Mortlake and Camperdown have 40 beds and don't qualify.
Aberlea CEO David Knight said he was worried about what could happen if it was unable to meet the requirements.
"Whilst the government has mandated 200 minutes of care per resident per day, 40 of which needs to be by an RN, we are currently unable to meet that RN requirement," Mr Knight said.
"It is through no lack of trying. We advertise ad nauseam, we recruit agency staff, we provide housing. We're very similar to the rest of the industry. They just don't exist.
"We will continue to try to meet the requirement, but we're going to struggle."
While the facilities do meet the requirement for 200 minutes of care, sometimes it is with an enrolled nurse rather than the required registered nurse.
Mr Knight said Aberlea was providing excellent care, and was recently re-accredited. He said a registered nurse was on-call at all times.
He said hospitals and larger aged-care facilities were also struggling to get nursing staff. "We're aware of a number of nursing homes in the regions that have shut beds due to reduced staffing numbers, not just RNs," he said.
He said he was hopeful the government would address the issue.
Camperdown's Sunnyside House acting CEO Bec Siemon said it was also finding it very hard to attract registered nurses.
"To manage 24/7 RN care is almost impossible at this point in time," Ms Siemon said.
"We are trying to get more but we're also struggling to find housing for RNs even if we could get them."
Ms Siemon said registered nurses who already lived locally were "stretched very thin".
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the facilities should be granted flexibility and time to implement changes suggested by the Royal Commission.
He said the requirement was "nearly impossible" to meet and was impacting regional and rural areas the most.
Mr Tehan said it was very hard for rural and regional areas to get registered nurses.
"Given the lack of registered nurses in Australia, it was always gong to be very difficult for facilities to meet this," he said.
He said there was also no registered nursing visa in place to enable nurses to come in from overseas.
"It's really putting a requirement which is nearly impossible for aged care facilities right across Australia to meet," he said.
"It's impacting regional and rural areas the most."
Mr Tehan said the government had to make sure it was flexible otherwise see aged care facilities would close.
"In other states, what it has lead to sadly is aged care facilities closing," he said.
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