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Aged Care Guild calls for mandatory registration of care workers

The peak body representing major private residential aged care providers has called for the mandatory registration of personal care workers in aged care, saying there is a “compelling case” for a national system in Australia.

The Aged Care Guild’s position, contained in its submission to the senate’s inquiry into the aged care workforce, is the first time an aged care peak body has argued in favour of mandatory registration.

The guild represents nine of the largest private residential providers, which make up 18 per cent of the sector between them.

While state governments agreed to a National Code of Conduct for Health Care Workers in April 2015, which would cover personal care workers, the guild argued that “this would not meet the requirements and full intent of a national registration process.”

The national code is currently in operation in three states – South Australia, NSW and Queensland – but has not yet been implemented in other jurisdictions until state governments pass enabling legislation. AAA reported on the national health workers code in 2014 – read that report here.

The guild asked the senate inquiry to consider registration for personal care workers “which should become compulsory and administered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, in the same way that tertiary qualified nurses, doctors and allied health professionals are.”

Cameron O’Reilly, the guild’s CEO, told Australian Ageing Agenda that the inquiry had a broad remit and there was merit in it examining specific measures such as registration.

The sector was facing a huge numerical challenge in terms of the numbers of workers required, compounded by the need to maintain quality and confidence in services and make aged care a more professional, attractive place to work, he said.

“We’re facing an historic challenge in overall growth in an environment where policy is emphasising the importance of a more consumer-centric organisation, where the workforce is almost part of the consumer experience,” Mr O’Reilly said.

A registration system would help employers to maintain quality, and it aligned with the guild’s emphasis on ensuring the quality of the training sector and of qualifications, he said.

“[Registration] can’t be looked at in isolation but it’s a good specific thing for this inquiry to give a full airing to,” he said, including testing some of the assumptions around introducing mandatory reporting, such as it being a deterrent to new entrants.

Aged care provider Jewish Care Victoria has also backed the introduction of mandatory registration for PCWs.

It told the inquiry that the growth in demand for aged care coupled with the rollout of CDC highlighted the need for registration of direct care workers which would bring with it individual responsibility for continuing professional development.

There was currently no professional body that a direct care worker could be reported to if their performance was deemed unsafe and at risk to the people they cared for, Jewish Care Victoria said in its submission.

“Providers can utilise performance and disciplinary procedures in such instances but the individual is still able to obtain work with another employer,” it said.

Furthermore, as a consumer directed market allowed individuals to directly contract themselves as individual providers of care, with no affiliation to an aged care provider, there was “uncertainty in how these workers are to be monitored or the safety of clients maintained,” said Jewish Care Victoria.

The majority of aged care providers and peak bodies have traditionally been opposed to mandatory registration of PCWs, arguing that the cost of registration and ongoing requirements such as continuing professional development would act as a disincentive to attracting workers.

Aged care provider Resthaven restated its opposition to regulation of care workers, saying any barrier for entry should be carefully considered. “We do not favour extending the role of AHPRA to unregulated workers,” it said in its submission to the inquiry.

More AAA coverage on the senate workforce inquiry:

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14 Responses to Aged Care Guild calls for mandatory registration of care workers

  1. Cheryl Timms March 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    Of course it should be mandatory to have as strict a check as possible. There has been too many instances where a worker has injured or hurt a resident… there must be serious checks to keep everyone safe.

  2. lyn March 18, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    yes of course it should be mandatory and managers should be more honest if someone is dismissed and applies for another job in another aged care facility

  3. Anonymous March 18, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

    I definitely agree with Lyn as sometimes when someone has been dismissed from one facility they just get another job else where where as they should not be able to do so….really need something in order to weed out the people who are not right to care for our most valued members of society….I was a carer for 27 years and yet my Dad who was admitted to a facility was treated so badly he lost his life as a direct result…

  4. Angela Gifford March 18, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    Assuming mandatory registration of care workers applies to home care as well the the idea is a good one but the reality will not bring more workers into the care field, but the opposite.

    In home care there are many levels of care that need to be provided and the danger of mandatory registration is that care workers who wish to provide lower dependency care, many of which are in the older age group and who have experience and maturity on their side, will vanish from the sector. Although the UK does not have mandatory registration, the specifications brought in for the training of care workers have removed this level of older care workers from the system and has seen the decline in more mature potential care workers coming forward to enter the profession.

    If any care provider is ‘selling’ their services to customers the responsibility should be on the provider to make sure that their care workers are appropriate and qualified to provide the care needed. It is not the role of Government to take responsibility for this.

  5. Anonymous March 18, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    Of course we should be registered. All nurses are registered it only makes sense.

  6. Drew Dwyer March 18, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

    Excellent just be prepared to pay more for the quality and professional practices

  7. Ged Salter March 19, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    its a good idea. But being the lowest paid sector and knowing the greed of the government how can the aged care workers afford this registration.

  8. Ted Wards March 21, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    Yes you only have to go the Coroners Court and see how many people have died because of very poor manual handling practices… We let these barely trained workers care after our loved ones. Many of the trainers in RTOs have not had recent field experience, in some cases over ten years yet they are training people? New techniques are not being taught, the new philosophies are not even mentioned. Registration should be mandatory! The field needs tighter regulation in general and the training should be in universities, not private organisations whose only goal is to receive funding not training people to take proper care of your loved ones.

  9. Blackcat March 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

    All personal care workers working in aged care, disability sector and mental health sectors should be registered. The registration must include workers in an organization as well as the sole traders contracted to provide a service. A minimum education requirement should be specified.

    In SA there is a disability services provider panel guideline which may serve as a starting point.

    I would endorse only RTO trainers having recent field experience.

  10. Flordeliza Brigole March 22, 2016 at 12:44 am #

    This is very interesting. I have been trying to get my registration as Enrolled nurse for 3 years but because English is my second language I have to spend lots of money to pass English proficiency exams and still could not get through it. The workforce of PCW and AIN are very diverse, it makes me wonder if they have to pass English proficiency as well. If so, this another big money making business. We are already underpaid workers and yet government wants us to get registered?

  11. J. Baker March 22, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    Any persons working in health or aged care should have some form of registration. I have been a nurse for 30years plus and I am greatful that I have a regulatory body to govern my practice. It also serves as a guide for prospective employer to check on any previous practice issues, such as those mentioned above. Yes it does incur a cost, however this may stop inappropriate persons from applying to work in the industry and that is always a good thing.

  12. Pat March 24, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    I have recently just finished my cert 111 in age care and I do not appreciate the implication that we are not trained properly
    In fact the training is sufficient to care for our elderly
    I have just studied 6 months and 4 weeks prac
    I will give my best care to people’s love ones and follow all procedures
    And yes I agree a national registration is a great idea

  13. Community Support Provider March 29, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    Angela Gifford is 100% right: we are already facing a workforce crisis, putting more red tape in front of workers and providers is not the answer. There is nothing here about this only applying to Residential Care, so if we assume that it will apply to in-home support as well, this is completely unworkable.

    “We’re facing an historic challenge in overall growth in an environment where policy is emphasising the importance of a more consumer-centric organisation, where the workforce is almost part of the consumer experience,” Mr O’Reilly said…there is no ‘almost’ about it. There is so much more to delivering quality support and care than a certificate, or a card with ‘registered’ on it. We need to listen to consumers on this: if a consumer wants low-level, non-clinical, generalist support from a Support Worker who they like and trust, that should be the consumers choice (once mandatory minimum checks and balances have been conducted). Regulation and registration does not make a 100% safe service.

    This will never happen (the States&Territories can’t even agree on a consistent criminal record check process at the moment), and should never happen.

  14. e kirkpatrick April 6, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

    no we dont need care workers to be Registered we need proper training none of this 8 week courses and what about not being able to understand what you are talking about ,stop centerlink sending anyone who needs a job to be a carer there people is a list of what is wrong with aged care in a nut shell

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