A blueprint for the aged care sector to rapidly grow Australia’s professional aged care workforce – estimated to require almost one million workers by 2050 – has been developed by an industry-led expert taskforce.
The Aged Care Workforce Taskforce’s A matter of care – a strategy for Australia’s aged care workforce, released today, is designed to help the sector shift attitudes to caring careers, and enhance the quality of life of senior Australians.
A proud and professional workforce is the foundation for quality aged care, with the new strategy to provide a critical platform for one of the nation’s fastest growing and most important sectors.
We need to almost triple our aged care staff by 2050 which means we must make caring a career of choice, with clear professional pathways, high community appreciation and strong self-respect.
The report flags the need to change attitudes to caring and aged care and was informed by submissions from community and seniors organisations, families, aged care residents, health professionals, unions and aged care providers.
The strategy also recognises that the care needs of older Australians are growing increasingly complex, with a high incidence of multiple chronic conditions, including dementia, and changing community expectations.
The report was developed with the sector, and the sector needs to own its implementation. To ensure the momentum for workforce reform created by the Taskforce’s landmark work is maintained, the Government will support Professor John Pollaers OAM, former Chair of the Taskforce, to work with industry to help the sector implement the Strategy.
The strategy will help industry attract and retain a skilled workforce to meet the growing demand for aged care services. This can happen through the creation of new career pathways for aged care workers that recognise and value their skills and experience.
An Aged Services Industry Reference Committee, announced by the Government in March, will reform national training package qualifications and skill sets needed by the aged services industry and examine new approaches for career progression in the sector.
A new Industry Accord on the Remote Aged Care Workforce has been endorsed, with the goal of improved care outcomes for older people living in remote settings.
The Taskforce has also laid the groundwork for the creation of an Aged Care Industry Code of Practice.
This investment in workforce capability complements targeted measures announced in the 2018–19 Budget to support the aged care workforce to manage care for people with complex care needs, including $102.5 million over four years to deliver mental health care services to aged care recipients and $32.6 million over four years for a trial to improve palliative care in residential aged care.
This builds on the commitment of $33 million in the 2017-18 Budget for the Boosting the Local Care Workforce Program, designed to support disability and aged care service providers to meet their workforce needs.
There are a variety of additional Government programs that support service providers and aged are workers.
The taskforce, established by the Government last November, reviewed 684 responses to a call for public submissions, held large forums in major cities and convened 80 meetings during the consultation process.
The Productivity Commission projects the number of Australians receiving aged care will almost triple by 2050, to 3.5 million, requiring staff numbers to grow from 366,000 to almost one million.