One of those operators, Wesley Mission, received a deal of media exposure on its announcement last week to exit the sector.
Wesley Mission is a much-loved high-profile charity. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other lesser-known names across Australia that have closed or are about to.
As aged care services are outsourced by the Australian Government, it now seems to be in the hands of the private sector as to where this all lands.
Will the bigger operators take over? With bigger balance sheets and more clout in pressuring the Australian Government for more subsidies, growth in the bigger residential aged care operators seems likely.
Whether big or small, one chief concern remains and that is how will Australia find an aged care workforce said to be short by 30,000 to 35,000 workers?
For the past five years, I have passionately shared my views on how we need to encourage people to join our care workforce and Federal Government investment in the issue.
The 2021 Coalition Federal Budget set aside $17.7 billion over five years to transform the aged care sector. Of this, $338.5 million was to be spent over three years to grow, train and upskill the aged care workforce to drive improvements in the safety and quality of care.
The 2022 Labour Federal Budget set aside $3.9 billion to drive structural improvements in the delivery of aged care. It saw funding for 200 minutes of daily care, the 24/7 presence of a nurse in aged care homes, and other great and necessary reforms but silence around galvanising a workforce to deliver these new levels of quality care.
On 9 May 2023, the Labour Government will deliver its 2023 Budget. Leaders in the aged care sector running residential facilities and in-home care services will be skimming those budget papers for figures on the investment in building our aged care workforce and subsidies to help pay for the 15% (1 July 2023) wage increase to the sector.
To build workforce numbers, a suggestion I voice regularly is to have all qualified, trainees in the public health sector and all medical students do a mandatory placement in aged care either in community and home care or residential aged care setting. This might encourage people to join the sector and help find the right people.
It is about finding “the right people”.
As the late Dena Blackman, Founder of Australia’s first national care agency, Dial-An-Angel, often said:
“It was not always simple to find just the right person [to take the role of carer, it had to be an ‘Angel’] with the relevant background, experience, dedication, temperament and the sense of commitment.”
For every 10 people who applied to be an Angel, Dena invariably found that only one was “the style of person” suitable for the role. That’s a 10% success rate.
Finding the right people, with the right attitude and passion for caring is yet another hurdle to jump in building a care workforce.
In the words of Danielle Robertson, founder and CEO of DR Care Solutions.