We exist to inspire people to want to care, enable people to properly care and enhance life through care. Because how we care for our ageing is a reflection of who we are as a nation.”
This is the vision for the aged care industry set out in the Aged Care Workforce Taskforce's recently released blueprint, called A matter of care – a strategy for Australia’s aged care workforce.
The Taskforce was set up to develop an industry-driven workforce strategy to grow and sustain the workforce needed for the future. It sought input from representational bodies and thousands of people, including providers, aged care workers, and consumers and their families.
“In undertaking our work, we uncovered some inescapable truths that impact on how the community views aged care and, indeed, how the industry sees itself,” Taskforce chair Professor John Pollaers wrote in his foreword. “It is critical that we shift these views and attitudes if true transformation of the workforce is to occur.”
As Australia needs to just about triple its aged care staff by 2050, Wyatt said, “we must make caring a career of choice, with clear professional pathways, high community appreciation and strong self-respect”.
COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said the peak was particularly pleased to see recommendations to better reflect the value and contribution of personal care workers and nurses by improving their current pay deficiencies, identifying the appropriate skills mix of staff in a facility, and developing new career paths so workers can stay in aged care throughout their careers.
“Older Australians constantly tell us that staff attitudes and skills are one of the most important aspects of aged care to them,” Yates said. “Ensuring we can recruit and retain the most dedicated, highest skilled and most empathetic staff is critical to continuing to deliver the very best quality care to Australians in later life.”
Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward, chief executive of the Australian College of Nursing, also welcomed the call for nurses in aged care to be better valued both in terms of salary and their skills and ability.
“As the report noted, and the nursing profession has been saying for some time, nurses are being expected to do many tasks in aged care that take them away from clinical care and this means residents do not get the care they deserve.
“Clear career paths in aged care and salaries that reflect the complexity of care provided in aged care settings will help attract and keep nurses in aged care,” Ward said.
Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) chief executive Pat Sparrow said the blueprint correctly identifies that attracting and retaining the right staff is going to be critical to tackling the workforce challenge.
“We will work with government to implement the practical suggestions for how industry can make aged care a career of choice, including for young people.”
Sparrow was also pleased to see that the needs of remote workers and services were spotlighted, and the Industry Accord on the Remote Aged Care Workforce (remote accord) was agreed.
The report read: “During consultations, remote aged care organisations consistently told the taskforce, ‘we need a united voice’ and ‘we are different to mainstream aged care’.
“It has become clear that there is value in recognising remote aged care as a separate part of the system that requires tailored systematic and programmatic solutions.”
Wyatt said the report was developed with the sector and, as such, the sector “needs to own its implementation".
“To ensure the momentum for workforce reform created by the Taskforce’s landmark work is maintained, the Government will support [Pollaers] to work with industry to help the sector implement the strategy,” he said.
Pollaers believes the strategy can be executed in one to three years, and said doing so will then position the industry for the next four to seven years.
“The execution of this strategy will better equip and enable the aged care workforce to support older people to live well,” he said. “A matter of care is for all Australians, because the way we care for our ageing is a reflection of who we are as a nation. How we care says who we are.”
The fourteen strategic actions outlined in the report were:
- Creation of a social change campaign to reframe caring and promote the workforce
- Voluntary industry code of practice
- Reframing the qualification and skills framework – addressing current and future competencies and skills requirements
- Defining new career pathways including accreditation
- Developing cultures of feedback and continuous improvement
- Establishing a new standard approach to workforce planning and skills mix modelling
- Implementing new attraction and retention strategies for the workforce
- Developing a revised workforce relations framework to better reflect the changing nature of work
- Strengthening the interface between aged care and primary/acute care
- Improved training and recruitment practices for the Australian Government aged care workforce
- Establishing a remote accord
- Establishing an Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research
- Current and future funding considerations, including staff remuneration
- Transitioning the existing workforce to new standards
Email [email protected]