Sep 06, 2017

Australia’s Aged Care Workforce: Are We Ready To Meet The Demand Ahead?

Aged care is a booming industry. And there is one main reason why this is the case – people are living longer.

The UN predicts that by 2030, one in six people will be over the age of 60. With so many more potential clients and residents for aged care, what does this mean for the aged care workforce?

The healthcare workforce needs to be better equipped for what’s coming ahead, as well as the needs of the elderly now.

Without doubt, there is room for improvement. A recent senate committee reported that there is “a clear need” for a workforce strategy in light of the “significant growth and change”.

Changing pressures on the aged care workforce

There are more elderly people needing care, and yet not enough carers and aged care workers to meet the demand.

The workforce is ageing: the average residential aged care employee is 46 years of age and for home care it’s 52 years of age.

It has been estimated that the aged care workforce will need to grow from around 366,000 to 980,000 by 2050 to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of older Australians accessing aged care services.

One of the challenges that the committee faced during their investigations was the lack of aged care workforce data. And with no nationally agreed standards, it can be rather difficult to analyse the composition of the current workforce, and how that workforce may need to develop and adjust to meet future needs.

However, it was concluded that the aged care workforce will need to grow by about 2 per cent annually, or triple from its current size, for the next 30 or so years to meet demand, and that is not taking into account any technological advances or innovations to the service delivery models.

Attracting, training, and retaining aged care workers

To ensure quality care, aged care services must have adequate numbers of skilled, qualified staff committed to providing person-centred care. There are a number of reasons why the sector faces challenges with retaining staff;

  • Poor sector reputation
  • Poor working conditions
  • Low staff ratios
  • A lack of career paths and professional development opportunities
  • Low pay rates

In order to meet future needs it will be crucial for the sector to adapt and adopt strategies that will ensure it is able to attract and retain a highly skilled and well-trained workforce.

Diversity in aged care

The Australian population is becoming more diverse and this is reflected in the increasing proportion of aged care service users with special needs and preferences.

The growing diversity in aged care includes people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who live in rural or remote areas, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

What the sector needs is to create a culturally competent and inclusive aged care workforce to cater for the different care needs. As the users of aged care become more diverse, the workforce also needs to reflect the same diversity.

Education

Education plays a large role in equipping future staff for the responsibilities of aged care.

The workforce requires appropriate education, training, skills and attributes to provide quality care for older people

The needs of aged care residents and clients are becoming more complex, and increasingly require specialised treatment in areas such as dementia and palliative care.

The aged care workforce will need to broaden its skills and capabilities in order to assist older Australians with their growing needs, such as:

  • Dementia and cognitive impairment
  • Mental illness
  • Communication disorders
  • Complex psychological situations
  • Palliative care
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Many of the aged care workers that are currently in the field lack the basic skills needed to care for the elderly because qualifications, such as Certificate III or IV in Aged Care are subject to vary somewhat in terms of the overall curriculum delivery.

Chisholm Institute offers individuals the opportunity to study the Certificate III in Individual Support with specialisations in Ageing, Home and Community and Disability in a 6 month course.

Students will learn strategies on how to empower, provide personal care and promote independence to older Australians. Studies also involve developing skills and knowledge in areas of Dementia and Palliative care.

The Certificate III in Individual Support course involves face to face classroom based activities as well as practical “hands on” learning in our onsite simulation workplaces.

Part of the student experience also involves several weeks of workplace practical placements where students are taught to uses their discretion and judgement in relation to providing support and to take ownership of tasks and outcomes.

“Get qualified and working in Aged Care with a Chisholm Institute course”.

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  1. Hi I totally agree we need more Aged Carer workers! I have been working in the industry for over 12 years starting as a volunteer. Now I work in the Philippines getting their qualified Nurses into our Australian Aged care program via doing Theory here and sending them to Australia under the 500 student visa.
    The problem is it would seem our Immigration department do not seem to understand our needs and now have introduced the Genuine Temporary Entry condition basically saying the student must return home after completing their studies when we all know we have a chronic shortage of workers yet we have over 300,000 unemployed nurses here genuinely wanting to work in aged care with a culture second to none in caring for each other. Just ask any Aged care provider which nationality they prefer as their staff and 99% will say a Filipino.
    I’m not sure how we fix this issue but if we could we would go a long way to ensure we have compassionate carers in our community
    Your comments would be welcomed.

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