Government launches campaign to attract new workers to aged care

Government launches campaign to attract new workers to aged care

A government campaign to attract new workers to the aged care sector aims to reframe caring as a career for those who wish to use their skills, talents or passions to help older people.

The initiative titled, Bring Your Thing, has been launched by the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) and aims to ‘reframe’ caring as a more desirable career – one of the goals of the Aged Care Workforce Industry’s ‘A matter of care’ report. The ACWIC aims to triple the size of the aged care workforce from 366,000 to nearly one million (980,000) by 2050.

The campaign’s mission is to demonstrate that there are a range of rewarding roles in aged care and to inspire people to take up careers in the sector.  

The initiative is intended to show that people’s skills and innate traits can be put to use in aged care in a way that is more rewarding than in other industries because human connections are at the centre of the roles. 

Those transitioning to new careers due to COVID-19 are the target audience.   

The campaign highlights the range of careers available in aged care, including chefs, hair stylists, maintenance workers and social coordinators.

ACWIC CEO, Louise O’Neill, said the recent recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have created an even stronger drive to increase the size of the aged care workforce.

“If the Government is planning to fulfil over 100,000 waitlisted home care packages by the end of the year, then we are going to need a passionate and driven workforce to support this,” Louise told HelloCare.

“With a national focus on aged care in recent months, the aim is to show people that there are many rewarding roles in aged care and to inspire them to take up careers in the sector.

“We really believe there are many people out there that would be highly suited to and would love a career in aged care, but just haven’t been exposed to the options available.

“We believe aged care provides the opportunity to bring your passion – whatever it is – and we hope the campaign can highlight this and inspire people to act.”

The Morrison government has welcomed the launch of the new campaign. Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, said he hoped more Australians would consider a career in aged care. 

The federal government will spend $92 million over the next two years to attract, train and support 18,000 new personal care workers in the home care and residential aged care sectors, as part of its response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

37% of aged care workers plan to leave the sector in five years

While there is no doubt the sector needs to attract new workers, attention must also be paid to retaining the existing workforce by making roles more attractive (think better pay and conditions) and the work more sustainable (think more staff).

A 2019 Survey of Residential Aged Care Workers, conducted by Australian Community Research, found that 37% of current employees predict they won’t be working in the sector within five years.

The key reasons for thinking about leaving were being overworked, stress, low pay, lack of community respect, not having enough time to do the job properly, staff shortages, a lack of support at work, dealing with residents, the emotional demands of the job, and uncertainty about hours and rosters.

HelloCare recently spoke to an aged care worker who said she entered the home care sector on the promise of a new career, but in five years had never been able to find full-time work.

Unions demand better working conditions for aged care workers

This week, the unions representing aged care workers have also been voicing their frustrations about working conditions in aged care. 

Aged care workers from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the United Workers Union rallied at Parliament House on Tuesday to demand the government address understaffing and under-resourcing in aged care.

And last week a poll of more than 600 aged care workers conducted by United Workers Union found 78% do not think they will get a pay rise as a result of the royal commission’s recommendations, and 88% said they do not think the aged care sector will change in the short term to retain and attract talented staff.

Industrial relations “not fit for purpose”

HelloCare asked O’Neill if the ACWIC will be looking at improving conditions for aged care workers too, to help attract new staff and improve staff retention. 

O’Neill acknowledged the need to improve remuneration across the aged care sector, as well as improve attraction and retention, career progression and job architecture.

She said the current industrial relations framework for aged care workers “is no longer fit for purpose” and needs to be “modernised” to better support workers.

The ACWIC will be looking at the evolution of the workforce over the next five to 10 years, and will develop clear “career pathways” for aged care workers.

O’Neill said the ACWIC is also developing a planning guide for providers and employees to “overcome some of the casualisation of the workforce”.

It’s one thing to attract new workers to the aged care sector, but providers and the government must also ensure that the jobs available to new entrants live up to the promise.

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