Aged care workers want to work more hours than are currently being allocated, according to a new report.

The sector’s excess workforce capacity was confirmed by the highly anticipated 2007 National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey report.

Produced by the National Institute of Labour Studies on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the report shows that if all staff memberes worked their preferred hours, the number of hours worked would increase by 4 per cent.

The desire for more shifts is strongest in the community care sector where 42 per cent of workers would like to increase their hours – and one in five of those employees wants at least six hours more each week.

In residential care, 28 per cent of direct care staff would like to increase their hours and only 11 per cent wish to work less.

Another significant trend to emerge from the report is a steady reduction in registered nurse (RN) hours in residential aged care.

Since the last aged care census in 2003, the proportion of RNs who make up the residential aged care workforce has dropped from 21 per cent to just 16.8 per cent.

Across the board, aged care workers expressed a reasonable level of job satisfaction but there was widespread disappointment with pay levels.

And community care workers are generally more content than their residential counterparts.

“This is because they spend more of their time in direct care work, they are more able to spend the amount of time they wish with those they care for, they are under less pressure and stress, and they have more autonomy in deciding how to do their work,” the report said.

The report’s findings on future work intentions shed light on future retention patterns.

While 80 per cent of surveyed workers expected to be working for their current employer in 12 months, only 60 per cent thought that they would still be working in aged care in three years time.

Ten per cent thought they would be working in another industry and almost a quarter of people remained uncertain.

Click here to view a PDF of the full report

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