Scan proves that change is upon us

CS&HISC’s Environmental Scan 2011 provides more evidence that reform is needed to bring the sector into line with the changing influences driving service demand.

Above: Research and Policy Manager for CS&HISC, Robin Flynn discusses the details of the Environmental Scan 2011 at the Decision Makers’ Forum, Parliament House, earlier this week. Photo by Jennifer Nagy Exclusive Images.

By Yasmin Noone

The future landscape of the aged care workforce is not only set to change, it is changing now.

The recently launched Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) Environmental Scan 2011 has reported that the ageing population was one of the main drivers behind an increase in service demand, a change in workforce roles and continued workforce growth from January 2010 to February 2011.

The scan also stated that the national growth rate of the industry went against the trend of the GFC, rising to 8.6 per cent in 2010 (up 2.8 per cent on the previous year) following an increase of 100,000 more community service and health workers.

It showed that in aged care, more nurse practitioners are increasingly being employed; registered nurse shortages are seeing enrolled nurses take on enhanced roles; and the continued trend towards consumer-directed care is generating an increase in case manager, informant and advocacy roles.

The role of care workers is also changing, as the position increasingly moves toward becoming the “key” aged care position of the future. This is despite the fact that “…care workers often do not have the required skills, even when they have the required qualifications. For this reason, stakeholders have reported a shortage in skilled care workers,” the report stated. 

Stakeholder submissions to the scan also noted that the focus on community-based approaches to aged care has seen a reduction in the growth of low-care services in aged care.

Research and Policy Manager for CS&HISC, Robin Flynn, said the 2011 scan builds upon last year’s findings, and further accentuates the need for industry-wide change.

“A change in service delivery is being demanded, driven by a focus on maintaining client functional independence in community settings; and more complex client issues,” Mr Flynn said.

“Meeting these needs is resulting in a shift to more integrated approaches across traditional community services and health sectors and silos. Our efforts need to facilitate this shift.

“Community services need to expand their capacity to meet more complex needs. This extends to ensuring the not-for-profit sector is viable and sustainable across the country and in all sectors, and the workforce is competitive, recognised and valued.”

The scan reported that there were shortages of allied health workers in particular, as well as of other occupations, in regional and remote areas. There is also a well defined move to person-centred service delivery and delivery in non-hospital based settings (sub acute/ambulatory/community).

“…Health reforms are moving in this direction but it’s a slow and arduous job for a system as large as health to change direction, even by a few degrees,” he said.

“Nevertheless the focus on client-functional independence requires greater integration and collaboration from the institutions and delivery models across hospitals/acute, disability, aged care, community mental health and aged care.”

Dementia care and palliative care remain key areas of focus for future work roles. It is estimated that by 2026, more than one quarter of people aged over 80 in Australia will be from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

New roles are also being developed in response to the rise of assistive technology, although the report noted that there was a need for greater government investment in this area.

To view a copy of the scan click here.

Tags: aged-care, community-services-and-health-industry-skills-council, decision-makers-forum, environmental-scan, nurses, nursing, robin-flynn,

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