Evolving demands in aged care: addressing workforce and palliative care needs

Evolving demands in aged care: addressing workforce and palliative care needs

An article written by Professor Jennifer Tieman

Australians are living longer than ever before, and this changing demographic is changing the demand for, and the provision of, aged care. Recognising and supporting an ageing population with increasing frailty has implications for those who are providing care.

The reform process in aged care has been the subject of much discussion and policy action following the 2018 report of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, A Matter of Care, and the findings of the Royal Commission into Safety and Quality in Aged Care. Workforce issues have also been acknowledged more generally across the care and support industry with the development of the National Care and Support Workforce Strategy (5.54MB pdf) which examined skills gaps across the aged care, disability support, and veterans' care industry.

More specifically, the Aged Care Workforce Action Plan: 2022–2025 (1.04MB pdf) outlines the Government’s intent for the aged care workforce with 3 goals:

  • Grow: Promote approaches that attract and retain workers with the right skills, knowledge, and attributes to work and pursue a career in aged care.
  • Skill: Support a continuous learning environment. This includes approaches for workers and providers to upskill, attain formal qualifications, and put learnings into practice.
  • Enable: Support aged care providers to develop sustainable and coordinated approaches for growing a skilled workforce, with an emphasis on thin markets and meeting the needs of diverse communities.

All these workforce policy documents highlight the need not only for an expanded workforce but a workforce that is responsive to user needs and innovative.

Given the significant role that the aged care workforce plays in supporting older people with palliative care needs in residential aged care settings as well for those living at home and in receipt of a home care package, access, aged care workers, nurses, allied health professionals, and GPs need access to palliative care evidence, resources, and training. Australia is fortunate that the National Palliative Care Program has funded a range of projects to support these workforce needs.

palliAGED has always played a part in ensuring aged care services can access free palliative care resources that are practical and available when needed. The palliAGED Practice Tips for Careworkers and for Nurses are just one example of these resources. Given the sector response, we have recently expanded our resources by creating a set of printed packs for aged care services and teams that can be ordered for your staff and clinical colleagues. The following packs developed by palliAGED and/or CareSearch are now available:

Each pack contains forms and checklists to support and guide best practice when providing palliative care and care at the end of life. Services can build staff capability by introducing them as part of training in association with the palliAGED Practice Tip Sheets and the Introduction Learning Modules. Our Getting Started page helps you find out how palliAGED resources can support your workforce and your service.

Australians are living longer and dying older and many will have used aged care services in the eight years before their death. Our most recent palliAGED In-Focus highlights workforce and workforce capability as a key issue in ensuring that older people have care at the end of life that is skilled and respectful. To learn more and connect with useful resources to help you understand and respond, we encourage you to visit palliAGED In-Focus.

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Professor Jennifer Tieman
Director, Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death and Dying, and CareSearch Director
College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University

 

 

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1 comments on article "Evolving demands in aged care: addressing workforce and palliative care needs"

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Christine Farrell

I found the Resource Pack for Residential Care to be comprehensive and a very useful tool Thank You.

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The views and opinions expressed in Palliative Perspectives are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.