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Demand for Aged Care: Australia’s Chronic Shortage

Australia’s aged care sector demands a well-skilled workforce.

The aged care industry is in desperate need of a skilled workforce, with a looming shortage of at least 110,000 aged care workers over the coming decade.

A recent Royal Commission report made 148 recommendations to overhaul the system including boosting pay and conditions for aged care workers.

“We’ve known about the problems with chronic, widespread understaffing. When you have ratios such as one registered nurse to 150 residents or 200 residents or no registered nurse at all, and personal care workers responsible, one worker responsible for 20, 30, 40, even more residents at times, it is simply impossible to deliver safe quality care.” ANMF Federal Government Secretary Annie Butler, CareAbout.

Data shows that in the future 1.2 million people over the age of 85 will require care and assistance with daily living and, a larger proportion of this group will require greater levels of care. The Australian Productivity Commission (2011) has also projected the need for an additional 105,000 residential care beds over the next 15 years.

“The growing demand for workers in aged care, combined with the shrinking supply of younger workers entering the field, highlights a future workforce crisis. The current shortfalls are set to worsen with the retirement of a generation of women who have provided the backbone of the workforce.” Suzanne Hodgkin, Jeni Warburton, Pauline Savy, Melissa Moore, La Trobe University.

At least 17,000 more direct aged care workers will be needed in Australia each year over the next 10 years “just to meet basic standards of care” for our ageing population.  This includes residential aged care facilities, home support and other care services.

In this year’s budget, the Australian Government announced a $17.7 billion aged care package in response to the alarming findings of the aged care royal commission.

As Australia’s ageing population grows, the pressure for more spaces in aged care facilities will also become greater, so more Commonwealth Government funding is desperately needed.

All these findings mean there will be significant investment in aged care facilities and services, with a subsequent demand for qualified aged care workers to support the increasing ageing population.

What aged care services will my parents be able to access as they age?

Elderly man speaking with aged care worker in an aged care facility

As someone who has ageing parents with chronic and debilitating health issues including Alzheimer’s and arthritis, it’s concerning to think they may not have access to the quality care they’ll need in the future. Currently, they’re able to receive home support from government-approved aged care services to meet their care needs, like nurses, domestic services and respite. This enables my parents to stay in their home instead of visiting the hospital, and age with respect and dignity.

Watching my parents lose their independence is heartbreaking. I don’t want to let them down so I try to do as much for them as possible, but I also have my own life and responsibilities like work and relationships. While Mum is very stoic and supports Dad both mentally and physically, her health is also starting to decline. This is why it’s so important for me to know they’re able to receive the care they need, when they need it. They still have a lot to offer the community and can look after themselves to a degree. Knowing there are aged care services, more information and extra Government funding available, is a relief for all of us.

But what if there are not enough care workers in the future? What will happen to their quality of life in the coming years? Will they be able to get into a residential care facility with the appropriate level of care when the time comes, or will they severely struggle at home? Will there be enough aged care workers to meet the increasing demand? And if not, will the standard of care decline? It’s a frightening thought.

Gain employment and support our older Australians

To meet the growing demand and ensure our elderly are well looked after, now is the time to get involved in the aged care sector. Becoming part of the ever-increasing aged care workforce and supporting our ageing Australian community is one of the most satisfying and rewarding careers you can have. As an aged care worker in a residential aged care facility, or providing community care and home services, you will change the lives of our elderly people and enable them to age gracefully and with dignity.

The aged care sector is one of the most diverse and inclusive industries in Australia and is constantly looking for qualified, skilled workers. The Australian Government’s financial support also means more can be done to assist the facilities, services and workers.

What support do aged care workers provide?

senior aged care worker having a reading session with elderly woman in facility

Aged care services provide more than showering, shopping, cleaning and coffee dates. They provide our older generation with confidence, independence and quality of life. Giving a sense of purpose and something to look forward to regularly can also make a world of difference. They can continue to make their own choices, which gives a sense of empowerment.

The role you’ll play is essential. You’ll provide appreciated support in:

  • domestic assistance like shopping, laundry, cleaning, paying bills or preparing meals
  • personal care like help with eating, dressing, showering, hygiene or moving around the home
  • physical care like exercising and moving
  • transportation to and from appointments
  • arranging and facilitating social outings

You’ll also be a valued and respected companion, providing mental, physical and emotional support, which can never be underestimated.

My Dad is a character and loves a chat. Even with Alzheimer’s, he has a sharp wit and loves the visitors who come to the house. The nurses and cleaners look forward to coming to their place. They say it brightens up their day. They get just as much out of these visits as my parents do. He loves his “best mate Joe” who takes him out for a few hours every fortnight. They drink coffee, visit museums and talk about “the good old days”. It gives Dad a change of scenery, a new audience for his anecdotes and more stories to talk about. It also provides a good chunk of time for Mum to do what she needs to do too, without worrying about him. It’s good for both of them. Their ‘friends’ are a godsend.

Are you inspired to join the aged care sector?

The aged care sector is calling for thousands of people who want to join the industry and make a positive difference in other people’s lives. Can you see yourself giving our older people the assistance and respect they deserve? Do you want to provide our ageing population with life-changing care? Are you compassionate and believe our older generation still have plenty to offer our community?

Inspire Education offers a range of online aged care training courses to help you achieve your qualification, gain new skills, and advance your career including Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing), Certificate III in Individual Support (Home and Community), Certificate IV in Ageing Support, Diploma of Community Services (Case Management).

Inspire Education’s courses will give you the approved level of qualification for a variety of roles and responsibilities in aged care residential facilities, home support and other care services. They are also government-backed and nationally accredited.

Become part of this expanding and respected sector and make a difference to the lives of our ageing population. Your community will thank you for it.

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