Aged Care Workforce Strategy Must Focus on the Consumer

National Seniors has called for a person-centred approach to delivering quality aged care and targeted investment to achieve that outcome.

Appearing today before the Senate Inquiry into the Future of Australia’s Aged Care Sector Workforce, National Seniors said that aged care reforms needed to give far more attention to workforce issues.

Chief executive Dagmar Parsons said that this was because quality of care ultimately depended on having sufficient staff with appropriate skills to attend to older people’s needs.

“Our members know that aged care workers do their best under tough circumstances, but the reality is that current workforce arrangements are not delivering the quality of care older people deserve and expect,” she said.

“What we are hearing from members is that staff are time-constrained and have limited resources and skills to deliver high quality care, especially for residents with dementia and palliative care needs.

“National Seniors is concerned that the proportion of direct care staff is declining relative to staff engaged in non-direct care activities.

“This trend is at odds with a largely labour-intensive sector and increasingly complex care needs.”

Ms Parsons supported moves to develop a comprehensive workforce strategy to attract and retain qualified staff in the aged care sector.

“We need to change the current model and consider better ways to match staffing levels and skills mix with the care needs of older people.

“This means that care pricing must reflect fair and competitive pay for direct care staff.

“Career pathways also need to be established to create incentives for ongoing training and professional development.

“We want to see greater consistency in the quality of training for aged care workers and closer linkages with providers so workers have practical experiences to develop the social and emotional skills needed for the job.”

REFERENCE: National Seniors, 2016. November 3.