A new report is calling for urgent reform of aged care working conditions and benchmarks for decent conditions to support the sector to provide high-quality services.
Among recommendations is the introduction of 12 weeks paid end-of-life leave for carers, superannuation on paid parental leave and access to replacement care for carers of a person with a disability, chronic illness, or frailty due to old age.
The Australian Work and Family Policy Roundtable, which is a research network of 32 academics from 17 universities and research institutions nationally, released Work, Care & Family Policies Election Benchmarks 2019 on Wednesday ahead of the federal election on 18 May.
The researchers investigated key issues with existing public policies, such as safe workplaces, decent work hours and job security, and sustainable and high-quality care services, to develop the research-informed policy benchmark for government.
The report makes recommendations to improve work, care and family outcomes across all care sectors.
Among those, the report calls for a robust regulatory and accountability framework that protects quality of care and the effective and equitable spending of public funds in the aged care and disability sectors.
Roundtable co-convenor Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill said the aged care sector needed a national quality framework like the one introduced into the child care sector in 2012, which has subsequently improved the quality of services.
“We’re advocating for a similar kind of quality framework and benchmarking system in the aged care sector to improve the provision of care and put some benchmarks for providers around the ratios and time required for the care workforce to provide high-quality care,” Professor Hill told Australian Ageing Agenda.
The report also recommends developing benchmarks that recognise the link between decent working conditions and improving the quality of care residents receive.
“We have research evidence that shows when [frontline care] jobs are decently paid, have good quality provisions around paid leave time and a daily routine with enough time to provide the quality of care that is required, it leads to high levels of job satisfaction and high levels of quality care provision,” said Professor Hill, who is an academic at the University of Sydney.
She said there also needed to be reform in the sector to ensure co-designing principles involving the resident, their families, staff and the service provider were always employed to improve the provision of care.
“Designing strong frameworks for the provision of care collectively is going to be better than according to the needs of just the care provider, or just the care recipient or just the family of the recipient,” Professor Hill said.
She said the government needed to respond to calls for a policy framework.
“We are advocating for the next federal government to advance the policy framework that takes care work and care services seriously,” Professor Hill said.
“Improving the conditions of work will provide all kinds of benefits for individuals such as economic security,” she said.
Access the report Work, Care & Family Policies Election Benchmarks 2019 here.
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