Mar 16, 2023

Returning mums could solve aged care workforce shortages

A home care provider is turning to one of the most experienced groups of people in the hope of plugging gaps in the aged care workforce and is recruiting mums looking to return to work.

Australia’s aged care sector is in a precarious position with half the workforce expected to leave in the next three years. It’s estimated to be 200,000 workers short by 2050.

And although a large proportion of women in care-related jobs are mums, Giovanni Siano, owner of Home Instead Geelong, believes that mums who have focused on caring for their children are just what the industry needs.

“Everyone understands and appreciates that mums have so much experience and so much to give back through their life experience of raising kids. It’s not an easy task for anyone,” Mr Siano said.

“Our proposition is to attract that side of the market that needs a little bit extra [financial] support to re-enter the workforce and have a job that offers them the lifestyle and the flexibility to pick up hours as they wish and to suit their own commitments.

“We saw that the missing link was to offer extra support and education to assist them so they can re-enter the workforce with the tools needed to succeed.

“It’s based on skill set as well. If someone does have experience and they are keen to be trained to provide care for complex needs, we can cater for that, or if they’re more focused on house duties and easier support services we can cater for that too.”

Mr Siano actively recruits through his company’s Care Again (Return to work) program and he said parents make up about 20% of their weekly training intakes. 

By accommodating individual needs, Mr Siano said they work together with new staff to ensure they’re working hours that suit their own family commitments.

“Our philosophy, the way we go about recruiting care givers or people working in the office, we are mainly looking for cultural fit,” he said.

“It’s about having the aptitude to give back to the community and having that heart that you wanna share with someone else. It’s all about relationships for us and if you have the right ingredients, everything else can be teachable.”

Jessica, a mother of a 10-year-old boy with disability, joined Home Instead Geelong almost one year ago after her desire to utilise personal experience as a carer motivated her to study a Certificate IV in Disability. 

Previous attempts to re-enter the workforce had been a challenge, but a caring role with flexibility proved to be just right.

“Being a single mother and really wanting to get back into the workforce, I struggled to find work with so much going on in my outside life,” Jessica said.

“I worked at ALDI for a little while and that wasn’t as family-friendly, I didn’t have a really good work-life balance.”

Jessica’s passion for helping people with disability has led her to into a field where she can help out older people at home, providing a wide range of support services for clients. 

“It’s really good to form relationships with people and you get to have a laugh so it’s not just like you’re going in there for a job, they pretty much are welcoming you into their family and they’re always trying to make you a cuppa or something to eat,” she said.

“Sometimes you’re the only person to have any contact with them that day. You’re there to do a domestic service but sometimes they just want you to sit down and have a chat.”

The flexibility means Jessica can also take time off when needed to look after her son or to be there when he finishes school without having to worry about who can fill in for her.

As for other parents contemplating a return to work, Jessica said it’s important to find an employer that will support your needs.

“There are obstacles, but at the same time, there are jobs out there and employers out there that are flexible and understand the situation you’re in. It’s just finding the right fit for you,” Jessica said.

“Especially as a single mother with a child with a disability, the employer needs to understand that I’m not a miracle worker. I can’t work full-time hours. 

“And when you ring up in that caring role and you ring in sick, some places might be really annoyed. But here you get questions like ‘how’s your son feeling?’ and there’s no judgement as you always know that there’s someone to pick up after you.”

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