Half of the aged care workforce has indicated they intend to leave the sector within the next three years, as workers are disillusioned with the pay and are sceptical of new Government reforms.
A recent report was released by aged care consultant group, CompliSpace, which found many aged care workers are concerned about the future of the sector and are looking for job avenues elsewhere.
CompliSpace found that a majority of aged care workers (79%) have “no confidence” that reforms in the sector will actually improve outcomes for residents.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CompliSpace, David Griffiths, said that aged care workers have a very pessimistic outlook on the sector and its future.
“Our report shows that more than half of aged care workers across the nation (57%) believe that it is impossible to achieve the mandatory 215 minutes care time per resident, per day. The reason is a lack of qualified aged care staff,” explained Mr Griffiths.
“Almost half of aged care workers (45%) say that new staff are not prepared for their new role and pose a potential risk to residents.
“Without an influx of new, well-trained staff to support them, existing aged care workers face an ever-increasing burden, and for many the burden is too much.”
The Federal Parliament recently passed a reform bill that included a new code of conduct for staff, new funding for residential aged care, and new star ratings for providers.
Within the new funding for nursing homes is the integration of funding and care minute targets – which is 215 minutes per resident, per day, and 44 minutes with a Registered Nurse (RN) per resident, per day.
While this reform is a way off, expected to start from October 2024, the workforce is already concerned two years out that they won’t be able to meet the demands of the changes.
Around 57% of aged care workers believe the Government target of 215 care minutes per resident, per day, is “impossible” to meet. And workers in Victoria are the most “daunted” by the target, with 65% believing that 215 care minutes is not achievable.
Additionally, over the last year 45% of workers have reported that they have lost half or more of their own leadership and management team. Tasmania seems to have the heaviest loss in staff, with 59% of workers saying they have lost half or more of their management team.
This report backs up previous issues with staffing losses, including the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s (CEDA) June report revealing that 65,000 staff are leaving the aged care sector every year.
Industry peak body, Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) has said that the survey from CompliSpace further reinforces the immense pressure that aged care system is under.
General Manager of Policy and Advocacy at ACCPA, Tim Hicks, said that while the Government has made important steps forward with new legislation, commitments to fund pay increases, and broader mandates to care minutes, urgent action is still needed in the sector.
“The estimated billion dollar deficit in residential care funding for 2021-22, and the cost of managing the pandemic is placing enormous pressure on staff at all levels,” explained Mr Hicks.
“Finding workers to meet the new staffing targets to provide for the required 45% increase in minutes of care by a Registered Nurse is going to be impossible for many services.
“We need a plan for the immediate short term that recognises many providers will fall short of this target even if all reasonable steps are taken. We don’t want managers fearing that they will be punished because the staff they need just aren’t there.
“We must not back away from the need to recruit more staff, but we need a practical and realistic plan to get there that avoids adding the pressure that current staff are already facing.
“Any workforce plan for aged care also needs to address home care, where new clients are already being turned away because the providers cannot find enough staff.”
Mr Griffiths believed the reasons for low rates of people joining the sector were stunted immigration, low unemployment, and low pay.
The Federal Government last week made a submission to the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) Work Value Case and indicated that the pay increase for aged care workers would be “substantial”.
However, the outcome of the Commission case isn’t expected until late this year or early next year.
The CompliSpace report found that 69% of aged care workers want to see a pay increase of over 20%, and 47% of workers want to see a 25% or more increase to their pay – however, they are sceptical about whether the Government will actual go through with their intentions in the sector.
“Prior to the 2022 Federal Election, Labor committed to accepting and funding the outcome of the FWC case. This goes some way to explaining why a majority (79%) of aged care workers believe that Labor offered the best aged care policies in the recent Federal Election,” said Mr Griffiths.
“Alongside this hope, however, is scepticism. Almost 80% of workers have no confidence the reforms flowing from the Aged Care Royal Commission will improve outcomes for residents.”
To view the full report, head to the CompliSpace website.