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Workforce strategy urges action on funding, remote issues


An industry-led voluntary code of practice is central to 15 recommendations the workforce taskforce has proposed to aged care stakeholders at a national summit this week.

Around 120 delegates representing providers, industry peaks, consumers and the workforce gathered in Adelaide on Monday to test key elements and directions of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy at the taskforce’s second national summit.

These directions have been developed from six months of consultations around the country with providers, consumers and their families, workers, health professionals, volunteers and informal carers.

Taskforce chair John Pollaers took delegates through 15 proposed key strategic actions that will underpin the strategy.

Central to those is a need for an industry-led voluntary code of practice that addresses consumer expectations, which go beyond clinical care, he said.

“The code would reframe caring around a living well model that enables people to live the way they want to and relieves the perception that caring for the elderly is a burden,” Mr Pollaers told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“Ultimately we need to do this to support the aged care workforce in the essential role they have because the way we care for our elderly citizens is a reflection on us all as a society.”

Other proposed strategies include:

  • addressing the immediate funding shortfall for the industry and downstream impact on wages, attraction and retention
  • establishing “a remote accord” for industry to engage on remote and very remote aged care workforce issues and foster an ongoing shared agreement about the key priorities
  • establishing an aged care growth and research transition centre that aims to support the uptake of innovation locally and position Australia’s researchers to more effectively engage with the export market for aged care skills and technologies
  • developing a revised industrial relations framework to better reflect the changing nature of work

The taskforce aims to bring the industry together to create a unified industry voice and develop an industry-led strategy focused on the consumer.

Mr Pollaers told delegates that true transformation of the workforce could not be driven by the industry alone.

He said it required reframing the case for change between government, the industry and the community to:

  • shift societal attitudes to ageing to attract and retain workers of all generations
  • reframe the idea of care, including the notion that the care industry is driven by government, so that it is understood that it is broader than organised professional care and also involves informal care, peer-to-peer support and self-care
  • relieve the perceived burden of care

Also on Monday, National Seniors Australia released a report on consumer experience of aged care at home based on a study commissioned by the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

The report, which was based a national survey of more than 4,500 National Seniors members, found that most seniors receiving aged care at home had positive views about their care, but about half said improvements were required with coordination between home care and health services and the consumer directed care system.

The members and focus of the taskforce – to explore short, medium and longer-term options to boost supply, address demand and improve productivity for the aged care workforce – was announced by Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt in November.

The taskforce is scheduled to report to Minister Wyatt by 30 June 2018.

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