With the recent release of findings from the Disability Royal Commission and the impending announcement of the NDIS review later this year, there is much anticipation and discussion about the future of disability care and support.
Amid these significant developments, there is a pressing concern that I believe needs more attention—a troubling ‘loyalty deficit’.
In the disability sector, where the foundations of trust and commitment should be unshakeable, this deficit is eroding the very essence of what this crucial sector represents.
This has resulted in a situation where employees frequently jump from one provider to another, leaving organisations scrambling to retain their staff. It’s a chaotic dance of recruitment and retention, with some operating like cartels in the process.
I’m not alone in this observation; it’s a sentiment echoed throughout the industry. The lack of loyalty is causing a ripple effect, not only among service providers but also among our clients.
Individuals with disabilities are increasingly bouncing from one provider to another with seemingly no accountability or tracking by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The consequence of this loyalty deficit is that unregistered individuals can exploit the system, coercing vulnerable people with disabilities to move with them, further compounding the problem.
As the CEO of Home Care Nurses Australia, I am deeply concerned about the implications of this loyalty crisis for our sector.
To restore loyalty in the disability ecosystem, we must look to other segments of the healthcare industry, such as aged care, for inspiration. In the aged care sector, safeguards and protections are in place to ensure the continuity and quality of care for our elderly population. It’s time we adopt similar measures in the disability sector to safeguard the interests of both clients and dedicated service providers.
The recently released National Disability Services workforce census for 2023 paints a bleak picture, with an ongoing shortage of workers and alarmingly high turnover rates. These statistics underscore the urgency of our call to action. We must make the disability sector a more attractive career option to ensure its sustainability and maintain the quality of care we provide to individuals with disabilities.
To address this crisis, we need to implement comprehensive solutions. These solutions should include not only fair wages but also opportunities for professional growth and development.
We must establish mechanisms that discourage unethical practices by unregistered individual, protecting our clients from exploitation.
The disability sector is at a critical juncture, grappling with a loyalty deficit that threatens its very foundation.
As a provider deeply committed to the well-being of individuals with disabilities, I urge our industry and policymakers to address this issue head-on and am hopeful as a result of the DRC and NDIS Review that this is realised.
By restoring loyalty within the sector, we can create an environment that fosters stability, trust, and unwavering support for both our workforce and the clients who depend on us.
This article was originally published in the Third Sector.
Busi Faulkner is a Queensland-based registered nurse who is a proud Zimbabwean-Australian and is the founder and managing director of Home Care Nurses Australia, a home-care service provider delivering a range of personal care services to older Queenslanders, as well as people with disabilities of any age.