The Federal Government has welcomed the Senate’s report into the aged care workforce, saying it will inform the new taskforce charged with developing a strategy.

Ken Wyatt

On Tuesday the Senate released the report of its lengthy inquiry into the sector’s workforce and recommended consideration of nursing requirements in facilities, the publication of staff ratios and new efforts to tackle pay in aged care (read AAA’s story here).

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the Senate’s report was timely and would feed into the aged care workforce strategy, which was allocated $2 million in the May budget to establish and support an industry-led workforce strategy.

The taskforce is expected to be established in July, Minister Wyatt said.

“The taskforce will be required to consult widely within the health and aged care sector, and engage with other sectors, including social services, education and employment.

“This is an important time for aged care planning, with the Aged Care Legislated Review due on 1 August 2017 also set to help guide ongoing system reform,” Minister Wyatt said.

Rachel Siewert

He said the Federal Government would consider the Senate’s report and provide a response “in due course.”

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, chair of the Senate’s community affairs committee which led the inquiry, said it was clear there is currently no plan for how to grow the aged care workforce to meet demand.

“There is a clear need for a workforce strategy and I’m pleased that the government has announced funding to assist in the development of such a strategy. The committee makes a number of recommendations about what that strategy needs to address,” Senator Siewert said.

Australia’s peak doctors’ group welcomed the report’s recommendation for the new workforce taskforce to consider the role of medical and allied health professionals.

“Doctors and other health practitioners, working as part of the general practitioner-led team, are central to the provision of quality care for older people, yet medical practitioners have traditionally not been counted as part of the aged care workforce,” said Dr Tony Bartone, vice president of the Australian Medical Association.

“There is still more work to be done, particularly around reviewing Medicare items for GP consultations with aged care residents or patients living in the community who are immobile. This would also include telehealth and after-hours access to care,” Dr Bartone said.

Both Aged and Community Services Australia and Leading Age Services Australia welcomed the Senate’s report.

ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow said the taskforce would play a critical role in shaping the national landscape but also in identifying local approaches, successful programs and opportunities for collaboration, building capability and sustainability.

LASA chief Sean Rooney said that workforce attraction, retention and development had been adversely impacted by previous decision such as the removal of the payroll tax supplement, the fringe benefit tax and the Workforce Development Fund.

More of our coverage on the workforce inquiry: 

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