The growing size of Australia’s older population as the Baby Boomers age mean that we need “a major shift in the way we think about the aged care workforce” and a holistic response, according to Leading Age Services Australia (LASA).
The organisation cited data from the Productivity Commission estimating that by 2050 the aged care workforce would have needed to increase by 168 per cent, to almost one million, as proof of the need for the shift.
LASA chief executive, Sean Rooney said that a holistic and evidence-based approach was needed to continuously improve aged care, rather than a singular focus such as nurse-to-resident ratios.
He pointed to Professor John Pollaers’ Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, whose strategy the Federal Government would soon be considering, as to what such an approach could look like.
“Professor Pollaers’ 15 draft strategic actions help to define the likely scope of required workforce reforms including re-imagining care work and care workers, revising training and qualification requirements, defining new career pathways, improving workforce planning, and dealing with salary deficiencies and issues of attraction and retention,” Rooney said.
“LASA strongly supports a holistic response to workforce development informed by this work. Optimal staffing models that consider the different roles within aged care, required capabilities, and initial and ongoing training, is part of this.”
LASA said the use of new technologies and care models would result in future aged care work taking a different shape that what it does now.
LASA also highlighted the need for sufficient funding to enable the provision of quality aged care.
“Appropriate and sustainable funding must also follow to implement best practice models of care, noting that there have been significant cuts to residential aged care funding, whilst costs continue to increase, placing providers under significant pressure,” Rooney said.