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Aged care provider peak calls for ‘national professional standards’

Leading Age Services Australia has called for a regulatory body such as the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to assess the qualifications of migrant personal care workers to ensure they align with Australian standards, and to ensure that they meet a level of English proficiency.

In a submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Australia’s intake of migrant workers, LASA said that “for individuals [who] have obtained a qualification overseas that is not considered equivalent to the Australian requirements, an appropriate bridging curriculum should be considered to assist people to transition into the aged care workforce.”

However, LASA’s submission to the PC also called for the introduction of a “national set of professional standards for aged care workers” to be supported and administered through the national agency.

Currently, AHPRA oversees the national accreditation and registration for 14 registered health professionals. The national boards of each profession, such as nurses and doctors, set the standards that practitioners must meet in order to register.

As a registered profession, migrant nurses are currently required to have their overseas qualifications recognised by AHPRA in order to obtain professional registration in Australia. However, migrant care workers are currently not covered by AHPRA, as personal care workers are not a registered profession.

Asked by Australian Ageing Agenda to confirm if the provider peak was proposing mandatory registration of personal care workers, LASA’s CEO Patrick Reid said that a significant proportion of skilled roles within the aged care workforce fall outside of AHPRA regulation.

“When it comes to recruiting people who have migrated to Australia with qualifications from another country, the absence of a national agency that assesses such qualifications against the equivalent standard here makes it difficult for employers,” he said.

“The introduction of a set of national professional standards for aged care workers that is administered through a single agency would remedy this. Focusing on which courses are taught by which institutions to an acceptable minimum standard removes the need for individual registration.

“LASA continues to advocate for less red tape and supportive policies that help to increase the aged care workforce, but the provision of consistent, high quality care must remain core. Individual registration would not necessarily achieve any of these outcomes,” said Mr Reid.

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8 Responses to Aged care provider peak calls for ‘national professional standards’

  1. Christine Mifsud February 10, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    My understanding of the purpose of registration with APHRA is to minimise risk to patients/clients. While there may be a need for a national process to ensure aged care workers with overseas quals meet nationally consistent standards and competencies, I am not sure registration with APHRA is the answer, when professions such as Social Workers and Dietiticians are denied registration and it is deemed that their processes for self regulation are sufficient to protect their clients.

  2. Community Support Provider February 11, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    Some definition required on “personal care worker”. The vast majority of workers delivering personal care services, residentially and in client’s homes, are not RNs, ENs or Doctors. Therefore where does client choice fit in this? In a CDC world, who is LASA, AHPRA or anyone else to tell a client who they can and can’t have delivering their service?

  3. Louise February 13, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

    Just another layer – how about really scrutinising the RTO’s – some of these training groups are disgusting. Take away some of the groups that give out Aged Care Certificates as if it was found in a Wheeties box. 6 – 8 week courses – are you kidding me? These poor migrant workers have no idea what is in store – not to mention the cost to the organisation to retrain each and everyone of them. A standard of 12 Months training in Aged Care should be the minimum.

  4. Dave February 15, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    LASA would do well to sit quietly in the back row until its identity crisis is resolved.

    Advocating for less red tape while calling for the creation of an additional national registration agency?

    Championing ‘the provision of consistent, high quality care’ while arguing there’s no need for 24/7 RNs in high care facilities?

    LASA’s inconsistent messages don’t help our sector. The Department probably throws every submission into the bin. Who could blame them?

    This is a non-issue. I’m fairly certain we don’t have a major problem with Nepalese Certificate 3 holders being unable to transfer their qualifications to the Australian equivalent.

    And Christine, social workers and dietitians don’t administer drugs, manage acute incidents or perform clinical procedures. An incorrectly completed form or a few extra calories are unlikely to cause lethal outcomes. Different responsibilities and different consequences.

  5. Margaret Ann March 1, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    There are National Standards that already exist through the National qualification – Certificate III in Individualised support (previously Cert III in Aged Care). Our Aged Care organisation does not employ anyone without a certificate III – migrant or not. Robust RTO’s are already assessing LLN needs, there are processes that already exist and we all have responsibilities to ensure these standard are adhered to. Not sure that more ‘red tape’ will resolve issues

  6. Drew Dwyer March 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    Most RTO are under immense pressure to train the high quality of standards that already sit against this workforce qualification.

    The fact is that to train to the standards RTOs need more funding to do the job right, and the organisations need to adapt to better values that they give to the training of care workers, in particular by partnerships in quality skills assessment in the workplace where these students are looking for placement.

    Nurses hold a huge leadership role in this area of practice and development, yet i don’t come across many that have the incentive or support from their organisations to action , when they are interested in transformational leadership and mentoring care workers.

    The basic taboo here that is not outspoken, is, we still pay the least amount of wages to people who are asked to do one of societies most important and complex jobs. That is a demonstration of what we think of the elderly and the carers.

  7. Geraldine Koh March 4, 2016 at 4:57 am #

    What is the definition of quality care? I have been a carer and did a face to face research with clients on an informal basis. The reply I got mostly was “efficiency and companionship”. They believed the carers were mostly efficient but very few had well developed interpersonal communication skills. One of the key ingredients to building healthy relationships

  8. Jenny March 4, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Thank you for your insights Drew. I couldn’t agree more. Why can’t nurses and managers get excited and support nurses who want to transform workplaces. Why dump on migrant workers? We need improved funding for training and accountability and improved care ratio’s for workers. Isolating migrant workers just adds to the cultural bias. Jenny

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