Strategic Action 1
Creation of a social change campaign to reframe caring and promote the aged care workforce
How we care for our older people reflects who we are as a nation.
The aged care industry—and, by extension, the workforce—is perceived and portrayed as failing to meet the care needs of older people, particularly those in residential aged care.
Shifting negative attitudes towards ageing, the elderly, death and dying is a social challenge. It begins with understanding that care for older people is broader than organised, professional care.
These factors contribute to the perception that aged care is not a career of first choice. The opportunities that ageing and aged care present in terms of employment, research, contribution to the economy and as a driver for innovation also go largely unrecognised.
To support the workforce, a social change and workforce recruitment campaign is needed to reframe attitudes to care, ageing and dying and to promote the value of the aged care workforce. Ultimately, it is about shifting community attitudes as well as changing how the industry presents itself to the community.
There is a need to shift community bias towards ageing and care of the aged and to drive a change in thinking about what it means to be working in aged care.
This can be achieved by:
- Reframing the notion of care and building an understanding that caring for older Australians is something to be valued and a reflection of us as a society
- Creating a culture in which people want to belong to and feel valued by the industry
- Promoting aged care as an industry of opportunity with many different roles and career paths. This is important, because the industry needs to attract a workforce that is passionate about making a difference to older Australians and to promote the aged care industry as a positive career choice
- Encouraging more people in Australia to have deeper discussions, earlier, about the care of elderly loved ones in their lives.
Early work on a social change campaign is encompassed in the manifesto, developed initially by the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, which sought to help address societal bias towards ageing and aged care.
The Council continues to advocate for a social change campaign to re-establish the industry’s reputation and to provide an essential foundation any future attraction and retention strategies.
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Strategic Action 2
The Voluntary Industry Code of Practice
The Voluntary Industry Code of Practice (the Voluntary Code) embodies the intent of A Matter of Care – and is the first public-facing step to unify providers across our industry. It provides a way to define our aspirations, collectively, to move ahead of community expectations.
With the spotlight on industry leadership – the Voluntary Code becomes the way to demonstrate our commitment to quality.
The Voluntary Code provides the industry with a platform to develop ‘working trust’ – both with the community and with those who govern us – evolving our existing transactional relationships into partnerships based on mutual respect and shared responsibility.
The earliest outcome delivered by A Matter of Care was adoption of the principles outlined in the Voluntary Industry Code of Practice by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
The fact that these principles have now been codified in the Aged Care Quality Standards does not mean that our work is done.
Sector-wide adoption of the Voluntary Code in September 2020 will demonstrate our commitment to a resilient aged care system that anticipates, monitors, and responds to the dynamic ecosystems in which we operate.
Strategic Action 8
Developing a revised workforce relations framework to better reflect the changing nature of work
Productive collaboration between employers, employees and employee representatives will result in gains for the industry and its workforce.
Industry peak bodies and service providers have highlighted that meeting future demand for the aged care workforce will not be a simple replication of the work patterns of today.
All employers, employees and their representatives need to rethink their approach to workplace change and workplace relations as the world of work and the changing nature of work affect their relationships, needs and expectations at work.
It is important to note that a number of employee representatives have coverage across aged care. They have a depth of understanding of issues at the workplace level and at the front line that is worth listening to and considering. They cover a range of occupations, from nursing and Personal Care Workers – the bulk of the workforce – to cleaners and maintenance staff.
The timing is right for aged care peak employer organisations, employers, employees and those who represent them – employee representatives and professional associations – to have a dialogue about working together on workforce reform and workplace issues.
Strategic Action 13
Current and future funding, including staff remuneration
The industry, consumers, the workforce and the community will benefit from a more explicit discussion around funding and sources of revenue.
The taskforce believes there are distinct but interrelated parts to this dialogue:
- Meeting consumers’ needs through holistic care plans—extending traditional care plans to include clinical health, functional health, cognitive heath, cultural needs, living well aspirations and advance care directives
- Creating greater lines of sight to the way that organisations apply funding to the provision of holistic care
- Addressing direct care shortfalls due to unplanned workforce vacancies, insufficient hours of care or understaffing
- Attracting and retaining the right talent by addressing salaries of key roles under the midpoint salary range.
If this is the expectation then there are funding implications that need to be addressed to ensure ongoing viability of service provision.
Equally, if the expectation is that industry attracts the capital investment required in residential aged care to transform ageing buildings and associated infrastructure or enable industry to innovate and introduce changes in the way services are delivered, there are funding implications that need to be addressed.
When these parts are brought together, it becomes evident that further discussion is required to address revenue issues highlighted in recent reports and in response to the recommendations of the Tune Review associated with consumer fees and charges and ensuring the sustainability of the aged care system.
The Council’s position is that this Strategic Action requires long-term considerations for government, industry and the community, and in the context of industry improving its standards and business models.
Funding (mechanisms and volumes) need attention so that the industry can remain sustainable into the future.