Sandra Hills
Sandra Hills

It is time for the Federal Government and the aged care industry to join forces to make real change to the aged care workforce, writes Sandra Hills.

We commended the establishment of the Aged Care Sector Committee Workforce Advisory Group and their terms of reference in January of this year, and agree it is time to release the audit of the government funded workforce programs.

As Australian Ageing Agenda reported this week, there is a lot of frustration around the delay in the sector, as we desperately need a national strategy on how we are going to support the ageing population in future years.

Yet there is definitely a role that we, as aged care providers, need to play in developing our own strategies, both at an industry and an individual level.

We are currently all working separately on our individual strategies, and there is a lot of great work happening at this ground level. Benetas, for example, has partnered with The Brotherhood of St Laurence on its Given a Chance program.

This program supports disadvantaged people, including refugees, to get them the appropriate training, skills and job experience needed to provide high quality aged care services. Benetas has three participants currently working as personal care workers at one of our residential aged care homes, with great success so far.

Further to that, Benetas is also working towards becoming a learning organisation. We recognise that to be able to deliver on person centred care, we need to really up-skill our people in areas such as emotional intelligence, agility and providing real choice. We aren’t getting the results we need from the current RTOs, so we have recognised we need to take this role on ourselves.

These are just two of the programs Benetas are working on, and we know that many other aged care providers are also looking into innovative ways to deal with the workforce issues. What we really need as a sector is a coordinated approach, where we work together and share our learnings. The Australian Government’s strategy will help us achieve this, but we need to put in the work ourselves as well.

Workforce shortages are a very real and fast approaching issue. Aged care providers and the Australian Government need to work together to find a sustainable solution so we can provide the much needed care our older community requires.

Sandra Hills is the chief executive officer of Benetas.

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  1. Well said. As someone who has worked in the aged care industry for over 20, including being a trainer in aged care, RTO’s do not have people with the skill and knowledge needed to produce competent and skilled people.

    I know of one particular case at the moment where the coordinator who is responsible to run the courses and has a background in retail (has no idea about aged care), faced a group of students the other day and their wrath because the poor trainer could not deliver half the course because the coordinator could not get his act together and ensure the resources were available when they were needed.

    Many of them are not even aware of the major changes that have been made in CHSP, especially for certificate IV and above and are teaching out of date information.

    As regards the refugee issue, they would be great for organisations where a second or third language improves the quality of care. You have to realise that older people really struggle to understand people who can kind of speak English with a very heavy accent. Clear communication skills mean that they can be understood and understand what is being said to them. Unfortunately many of them cannot be understood clearly, no matter how loud they shout.

    The sad fact is RTO’s are pushing out incompetent students as they only get their funding by graduating students. I have worked with many in my roles in aged care and training who have no idea what they are doing and unfortunately this can cause harm and even death, such as the PC who left a client lying on his right side for her entire 8 hour shift and the man ended up having a heart attack. The worst case was a student from overseas could not speak English and could read and write so the trainer was doing the work for her. They did not offer her a reasonable adjustment such as orally doing assignments and quizzes. SO naturally she passed and then on placement ended up having a panic attack because she couldn’t understand a word that was being said and had no idea what she was supposed to do. Honestly, would you want someone like this looking after your loved one?

  2. Well said Ted – governments need to look at the current lot of RTOs and the courses and information that they are providing for people. I for the life of me cannot understand there not being more scrutiny in this area by governments – what a waste of resources and money that is being given to these groups. There has to be more standards for RTOs to meet! Then the poor students are the ones left up in the air, some pay a lot of money themselves – poor standard of training and education leads to poor standard of care – which in the end filters down to the care of our Elderly citizens. Just not good enough. I read and hear a lot like the article – same old same old, this has been going on for years and what has changed? Nothing is done in the end

  3. I can only read these comments with more disappointment. Yes! there are many RTOs pushing hard to make money in the aged care sector. Sadly they are not the right RTO for the fit of the needs of providers and carers.

    These RTOs have the money and resources to market the CON and sign up the student with fee help etc…

    Again sadly those of us that are aged care community care specialised RTO are not getting a look in in the sector as sometimes we are more expensive and we ask for higher commitment from students and better stronger relationships with providers.

    In the end it’s all about cost and time and the ones that you should be going to to study with are not getting the runs on the board.

    The industry needs to build stronger relationships with the committed expert colleges and then we will see the results you are all crying for.

    The standards you walk past are the standards you accept.


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