Australia's aged care workforce is now facing an annual worker shortfall of up to 35,000 staff, a new report has revealed, nearly double the estimated figure given in 2021.
The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) released a report on Tuesday detailing the deteriorating staffing crisis in the aged care industry.
The independent think tank estimates 65,000 carers will leave the sector this year alone, with poor wages and conditions driving people to quit.
“If workforce shortages at this level continue, we will not have enough workers to meet the basic standards of care recommended by the royal commission,” said CEDA senior economist Cassandra Winzar.
"The aged care workforce was already under significant pressure with staff shortages, low pay, poor working conditions and increased negative attention through the royal commission.
“Over the past year, COVID-19 has amplified these pressures."
According to the latest government figures, there are around 5,206 active COVID-19 cases in 622 active outbreaks in residential aged care facilities across Australia.
For a workforce that was already burnt out prior the pandemic, this has been the breaking point for many. "During a time where unemployment is low, many have chosen to leave the sector," said Winzar.
“Filling this shortfall will not be achieved without determined and consistent effort which
must start now.”
The CEDA report also raised concerns about Labor’s commitment to place 24/7 registered nurses in aged-care homes by the end of the year.
It said that "miniscule levels" of migration coupled with little government intervention will make it near possible to reach mandated staffing levels.
Earlier in June, new Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said she would be working with the Immigration Minister to develop policies to open up the pipeline for overseas workers.
CEDA recommended the government recruit international staff by adding them to the temporary or permanent skilled-migration lists, or introduce a new ‘essential skills visa’.
"The situation is not all doom and gloom. Aged care is a rewarding career, with high levels of job satisfaction," the report said.
"If we can start to rebuild the workforce, lift wages and conditions, and improve the reputation of the industry we could see a virtuous cycle where increased attractiveness and job satisfaction encourage more and more people to enter the industry."Do you have an idea for a story?
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