Aged Care Training Under the Spotlight: Let’s recognise the contributions of aged care workers

The release of the report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has again placed aged care training under the spotlight. This training is a “bread and butter” for Australia’s not-for-profit adult and community education providers (read CCA’s analysis of the Royal Commission report). Aged care training will be a major focus of CCA’s upcoming 2021 National ACE Summit.

PwC Australia has written an article on “Recruiting, retaining and empowering the aged care workforce” (free registration may be required), which details four steps providers can take to support aged care workers. CCA highlights selections of the report:

Reform is urgent

“For a start, aged care roles are demanding. Work is often physically and emotionally taxing, and poor workplace design and working conditions will hamper workers’ abilities to carry out their roles. Job insecurity is a problem and part time, casual and shift work is the norm. There’s only a narrow pipeline of new recruits entering the sector and understaffing is a chronic issue, compounded by constrained skilled migration and heightened competition for talent with adjacent sectors. Add to this the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector, and it’s clear the royal commission’s call for reform is now more urgent than ever.

Aged care workforce undervalued

“At the same time, our aged care workforce is woefully undervalued by society. The fallout from the royal commission has fuelled negative publicity about the sector, meanwhile Australia is often slow to celebrate the work of our aged care workers. This is damaging, and can actively discourage people from entering the aged care workforce. We need to lift public perceptions of aged care work, and recognise the extraordinary contribution of these individuals in caring for older Australians.

PwC’s key questions

“What opportunities exist to attract a new cohort of people to reskill for work in aged care? How can we attract the right level of skill without making registration requirements and higher qualifications a significant barrier to entry? Are we adequately considering the skills mix and roles that will deliver quality and safe care to older Australians? These are key questions for the sector to answer in the immediate future.

Employee Value

“Providers should clearly articulate their complete employee value proposition to secure new talent. Notably, people attracted to working in aged care are often motivated by altruistic reasons. So, providers should consider this when recruiting potential employees.

Career Pathways and Education

“Empowering workers to upskill via clear career pathways is critical to maintaining and strengthening the workforce. Currently, around 80% of the current aged care workforce are considered lower skilled (Certificate 3 or below). But consumer expectations have increased, and clear links have been established between professional development and provider compliance with aged care quality and standards. As such, qualification requirements are expected to rise.

“Providers must invest in the education of their workers. Ongoing professional development is a must. This empowers everyone in the workforce…. This includes focusing on the digital skills of workers. Boosting digital literacy paves the way to introduce innovative ways of working and new models of care, such as at-home care and virtual care.

Indigenous

In 2016-17, fewer than 1% of all aged care residents are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, although they make up more than 3% of the Australian population…. Improving cultural competency would contribute to a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures within society. So too would increasing employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the aged care sector.

We owe it to the workers and the elderly Australians they care for

“While recruiting, retaining and empowering a well-resourced aged care workforce is no easy task, we owe it to workers, and to the elderly Australians they care for, to truly value our aged care workforce.”

Read the full article on the PwC website (free registration may be required).

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