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Quality over quantity: Scramble for staff must not compromise quality of care – opinion

It is no secret that the aged care sector is approaching what could be coined as a staffing crisis. The number of direct care workers needed is predicted to increase by 70 per cent in the next 30 years. But as our sector scrambles for staff we are up against a number of other sectors including childcare and disability fighting the same battle.

The Royal Commission highlighted how extreme the need for staff was within the aged care sector but also how crucial it is for this staff to be trained to the highest quality. Many workers were highlighted to not have the knowledge, skill or support to deliver the quality of care needed.

As an organisation, we are calling on the government to establish a skills pipeline in the sector to attract more care staff and allied health workers to deliver the numbers of workers needed now and in the coming decades. But a qualitative approach to training is crucial in ensuring the care is of a high standard and meets the physical, social and emotional needs of older Australians.

We will be waiting in the wings ready to ensure that a pipeline is done in the right way and staff are trained to the quality that those in aged care need and deserve. If top quality training does not run alongside a national push for more staff, we, as a country and a sector, are setting ourselves up for failure. The Royal Commission offered the sector a chance to reflect and get it right and this is something we must embrace.

Part of what we do at Altura Learning is continually work with our members and monitor the sector to ensure we’re supplying education as it’s needed.

At the moment, we’re reviewing our course line up to ensure that it will meet the needs of the sector now and into the future. The Royal Commission recommendations have made it very clear that continuous education and accredited training will be a focus moving forward, so we’re investigating how our courses can be used towards accredited training. However, we still offer unaccredited training to meet needs across the board and enhance learning experience.

New regulation such as the Serious Incident Response Scheme is a step in the right direction in achieving this. Since the launch of our online course on the topic, thousands of Australian aged care workers have tuned in to complete the training and upskill to ensure a person within aged care who is suffering any kind of abuse can receive help quickly and effectively.

If staff know what to look for when it comes to abuse, they are in the best position to recognise it and report it immediately.

Bolton Clarke, a national aged care provider, is an example of an organisation that has jumped at the opportunity to upskill with more than 2600 staff on track to have completed the training by the end of the month.

About 97 per cent of close to 2000 of those who had undertaken the course had improved knowledge on the topic – a result that we as an organisation are proud of as we know we are making a difference to the lives of older Australians.

We are all part of the team that is building the aged care workforce of the future. Providing engaging opportunities to help build the capability and skills of those looking after our older Australians can do nothing but benefit our community to provide the best care we can.

Yvie Webley is the chief executive of Altura Learning

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