A recent report on the aged care workforce has shone a mostly positive light on the future of the industry but more work needs to be done to ensure its viability, industry peak bodies have said.
The National Institute of Labour Studies report, titled 2016 National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey, was conducted on behalf of the Department of Health. Over 4,500 facilities and outlets and more than 15,000 aged care workers responded to an invitation to participate in the study.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) chief executive Sean Rooney said most of the results and indicators are encouraging, with improved working conditions providing a stable and committed workforce. “While the report highlights there are some negative perceptions about careers in aged care, within the industry, there are many genuine career opportunities across the sector that can make a meaningful difference to the lives of older Australians,” Rooney said.
Aged & Community Services Australia chief executive Pat Sparrow said it is pleasing that the report states workers want to stay in aged care given the pressure of future growth in demand and potential competition for disability workers for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. “Aged care and disability services are two of the most important social services and it is crucial that the workforce to provide quality care and support is available for both sectors now and into the future,” Sparrow said.
While the report was deemed to paint a positive picture of the aged-care industry overall, study participants raised several key concerns about the sector, including those surrounding the impact of the recent aged care reforms, staffing within residential care and the time available to care for residents.
Interviewees were also concerned that aged care was considered an unattractive industry by potential employees due to perceptions that it was a low status job that offered poor pay and few career pathways.
Rooney said more needs to be done to attract workers to aged care. He said: “The proportion of age care professionals under the age of 35 is still a cause for concern, with the reported median age for residential aged care workers now 46 years and home care workers at 52 years.
“We already know that an estimated 60 per cent of the existing workforce will reach retirement age over the next 15 years. These workers not only need to be replaced but our aged care workforce needs to rapidly increase to meet the growing demand for different types of services.”
IRT Group chief executive Nieves Murray said that while the provider highly values its mature age workers, to meet the projected demand for aged care workers – the report states 980,000 are needed by 2050 – more young people are needed in the profession.
Murray said innovation is the answer, pointing to IRT’s registered training organisation, IRT College, which supports a school-based traineeship with the NSW Department of Education, as well as its training programs that are targeted at university students and young people who’ve experience longterm unemployment.
“These innovative programs have been really successful and we need to see more of this across the sector,” Murray said.
She added anyone, particularly young people, considering a career in aged care should give it a go. “It’s fulfilling work with flexible conditions and lots of job opportunities.”
Aged Care Insite sat down with Rooney to talk about how the report factors into conversations about the future of the aged care workforce.Want to share your thoughts on this topic? Do you have an idea for a story?
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