The Labor Party’s tally on the Aged Care Industry Council’s election campaign scorecard has jumped from 1.5 to 1.6 out of ten following the announcement of a plan to boost the aged care workforce.
Under the proposal, Labor will attempt to encourage 1,000 qualified nurses who have been out of the aged care sector for over 12 months to work in aged care at.
Nurses who re-enter the aged care workforce will receive cash bonuses of $6,000 in two $3,000 installments after six and 18 months back on the job.
Aged care providers would also receive a one-off $1,000 payment for every returning nurse they employ to cover the costs of re-training.
The Aged Care Industry Council’s Greg Mundy said Labor’s announcement was a step in the right direction but it would not go very far.
“It’s a quite cleverly targeted initiative,” he said. “The idea of attracting aged care nurses back to work is a good one but it’s only $6.6 million. Overall it’s on the small side.”
“1,000 extra nurses is useful but as a proportion of the total care workforce it’s not too significant.”
According to the 2004 report, The Care of Older Australians: A Picture of the Residential Aged Care Workforce, in 2003 there were a total of 116,000 direct care employees in the aged care sector – 40,000 of whom were qualified nurses.
The ALP’s Ageing and Disabilities Spokesperson, Senator Jan McLucas, said Labor would also increase training places for personal care workers.
“Personal care workers are the frontline of aged care service delivery in both residential and community care,” she said.