Jun 28, 2022

65,000 aged care workers leaving sector each year: “Staff shortages will worsen”

Staff shortage - aged care workers leaving

Australia is facing a shortfall of at least 110,000 aged care workers within a decade – or 400,000 workers by 2050 – unless urgent action is taken to boost the workforce now, a new report has warned. 

Australia will need 17,000 more direct aged care workers every year simply to meet basic standards of care, according to a new report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

Direct care workers include nurses, allied health and personal care assistants. 

PCAs make up 75% of the workforce. Direct care roles in aged care are filled 90% by female staff, 30% are born overseas and 13% have no qualifications.

The report says aged care workers enter the workforce through training, migration and from other sectors. 

But with attrition rates at 18%, the industry needs a gross increase of around 65,000 workers.

The report, titled ‘Duty of care: Meeting the aged care workforce challenge’, suggests older Australians will not be able to age with dignity if workforce issues are not addressed.

CEDA chief economist, Jarrod Ball, says Australia has failed to prepare for the challenge, despite the fact the problem has been widely anticipated following multiple inquiries and the nation’s demographic trajectory being understood for decades.

“These projections are based on conservative assumptions, and the situation may prove to be even more dire than this,” he warned

By 2031, nearly 20% of the population is expected to be aged over 65, up from around 16% now, meaning demand for care will only keep growing.

“We have not come anywhere near the growth in workers we need to meet demand.”

Australia spends around the OECD average on aged care, but well below the average of countries known for high quality care, such as the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries and Japan.

CEDA has made 18 recommendations for the sector, including:

  • Higher wages and improved working conditions, including better rostering and pay rises with increases in responsibility.
  • Improved training and ongoing professional development.
  • To address the workforce shortage, introduce dedicated migration paths to attract high quality, motivated migrant workers to the sector.
  • Investment in new technology that reduces administrative and physical burdens on staff, freeing them up for more face-to-face care.
  • Better knowledge sharing within the industry – providers must share what works.
  • Promotion of the industry.

The report’s author, senior economist Cassandra Winzar, said addressing working conditions is the first step to boosting attraction and retention in the industry – factors central to fixing the workforce challenge.

“The Federal Government has committed to raising the minimum daily staff time per resident to 200 minutes,” Ms Winzar said.

“While this is an improvement, it will only get us to the bare minimum of acceptable care by global standards.

You can read the full report here.

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  1. All these changes are needed but how will it happen and will the federal government fund it.
    Labor has just released the indexation funding increase.. NDIS will receive 9%… Residential Care only 1.7%.

    Only a month into their reign and it appears they have already forgotten their election platform and promises.

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