$2M project aims to strengthen remote workforce

The Aged Care Workforce Remote Accord has commenced a two-year project to develop a toolbox of staff attraction and retention strategies.

The group established to drive aged care workforce improvements in remote and very remote areas has commenced a two-year Commonwealth-funded project in three states to develop a toolbox of staff attraction and retention strategies for providers.

The Aged Care Workforce Remote Accord, which was established in 2018 to fulfill strategic action 11 of the sector’s workforce strategy, is delivering the workforce implementation project with $2.3 million of funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

Aged Care Workforce Remote Accord executive officer Mary Quinlan said the project will be implemented in the regions of West Kimberley in Western Australia, Yalata in South Australia and Murdi Paaki in New South Wales.

Mary Quinlan

“This project aims to connect communities and service providers in these areas with support to help develop and strengthen a strong and capable workforce,” Ms Quinlan told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“Ultimately, it’s about long-term sustainability of the workforce and helping to build that within these communities wherever we can.”

A project manager will oversee the project and a full-time project officer and part-time community engagement officer will based at each of the chosen sites. They will work with local aged care providers and community organisations to identify and embed place-based strategies and initiatives to improve employee attraction and retention. They will also work closely with health department regional development teams.

While each site will have its own program within the project, the overall aim is to produce guiding principles, a service matrix and a toolbox for all remote and very remote communities around the country.

“While different communities may have different solutions, there’ll be some commonalities in how that work can be done in an effective and culturally safe way,” Ms Quinlan said.

Project taking a broad approach

Exactly where in each region the project will be based and what communities will be involved is still being worked out. The team is currently doing a desktop analysis to determine who is in those areas with the view of working with anybody who wants and needs to be involved, Ms Quinlan said.

“The initial part of the project is around data and mapping to work out who’s in those regions, where there might be gaps and challenges, and who we need to bring on board to deliver this project successfully.”

The project will look at all areas of aged care – residential care, home and flexible aged care – and how it ties into other health and community services.

“It is taking quite a broad outlook because we’re aware that workforces are often shared between those different areas. We’re looking at exploring some new ways to try and utilise that and make sure that the workforce that is there is being maximised and utilised efficiently.”

Project manager wanted

The Aged Care Workforce Remote Accord is in the process of recruiting a project manager. The position has been advertised and anyone interested can email Mary Quinlan (mary.quinlan@acwra.org.au) for more information.

“That project manager role is going to be critical to the delivery of the project. We’re hoping to recruit somebody in mid August. And we’ll be conducting initial visits to the regions in August as well as working with the Department of Health who are very keen to get out to some of these regions as well, which is great.”

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