The aged care royal commission’s final report calls for decisive changes to the aged care workforce. It recommends 200 minutes of time per resident per day from care staff and registered nurses by July 2022. The report also recommends more “non-direct care workers” like cooks, gardeners, and admin staff.
It sounds like a tall order, and industry advocates are looking outside the aged care industry to fill it.
The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) believes the solution lies in changing people’s perception of aged care careers. The industry body has launched a campaign to inspire people to bring their skills, talents and personalities to a variety of aged care roles in the name of quality care.
Titled “Bring Your Thing”, the campaign is part of a drive to triple the aged care workforce by 2050 and reframe caring. It’s informed by ACWIC’S industry strategy of 2018, as well as the royal commission’s final report.
The campaign is particularly aimed at people looking for a career change or those whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, it emphasises that the industry can use skills and talents not usually associated with aged care.
CEO of ACWIC, Louise O’ Neill said in a statement that the royal commission’s recommendations showed the necessity for an increased workforce.
“This campaign is really about trying to connect with a broader group of people. There are many roles available in aged care that are different from the roles expected, and the people that I talk to in aged care absolutely love it.”
Many types of roles are needed for aged care
The campaign makes it clear that aged care involves many different roles, like chef, handyman, gardener, admin officer, or even comedian.
ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said it was not widely known that aged care required diverse talent. Far from a lack of opportunity, she said there are not enough job candidates.
“What providers are telling us is that it’s increasingly difficult to get staff,” Mis Sparrow said.
“It’s really important that people do see that aged care is a possibility for them, and that there’s lots of different things you can do in aged care.”
“We’ve tended to look at aged care as if it was just nursing and personal care.
“Nursing and personal care are incredibly important, but … hospitality and lifestyle staff, and all those things have always been in aged care (too). I just think we’ve not focused enough on them.”
Ms Sparrow said there are a range of career pathways into aged care, but transition to the industry would be easier for some than others.
“If you’re already qualified in as a cook (for example), it’s just a matter of considering aged care as a career and wanting to work with older people.”
Aged care needs volunteers too
Ms Sparrow said volunteer numbers had fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some services have a lot of volunteers, and through COVID, we were really concerned when things went into lock down. For a period of time volunteers weren’t necessarily easily able to access aged care.
“They do a lot of things for the residents that are really important. So volunteers are incredibly important as well.”
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