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Workers want flexible working conditions and greater recognition

Almost a quarter of aged care workers surveyed are planning to leave the sector in the next five years, leading to a potential shortfall of 80,000 workers, according to new research from HESTA.

The Transforming Aged Care report is based on a series of research projects undertaken by HESTA including an online survey of 2,000 health and community services employees, of which 500 were aged care workers, and focus groups with members working in aged care in Melbourne.

Among the aged care employees surveyed, 23 per cent said they intended leaving the sector within the next five years while 17 per cent said they intended to remain in aged care but change company.

Of those leaving the sector, 14 per cent said they wished to move to another job within health and community services with 56 per cent of this group intending to move to the hospital sector.

The top reasons for transitioning into other parts of health and community services are wanting to develop new skills (49 per cent), wanting to try something different (38 per cent) and not being paid enough (22 per cent), according to the report.

For those wanting to change companies within aged care, the most common reasons were being unhappy with their manager (30 per cent) insufficient training (30 per cent), being unhappy with the current organisation (29 per cent) and wanting to develop new skills (25 per cent).

The research estimates that 84,000 workers could leave aged care and only 4,000 transition into the sector in the next five years, leading to a potential shortfall of 80,000 workers overall.

Debby Blakey

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the research has identified a worrying potential exit of workers from aged care.

“We need significant action if as an industry aged care is going to be able to attract and retain the significant number of workers that will be needed,” Ms Blakey told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The report also draws on research HESTA undertook with representatives from four peak bodies, seven aged care service providers and three unions about attracting and retaining employees and innovative solutions being implemented.

While time pressures, coping with too many residents, dealing with deaths and physical strains were among reasons behind people intending to find a new job, other factors including recognition contributed to people’s decision to leave, the research found.

“There was a very strong indication that what they really want is better working conditions and greater employee recognition. That would make a big difference to their job satisfaction,” Ms Blakey said.

“From the employer side, a lot of it is around flexibility and having flexible rosters for employees.”

Employers can also “look at programs which support the retention of experienced older employers who are trained and skilled in the sector,” she said.

Access the report here.

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