Australia’s age services sector is a major employer but maintaining and developing a skilled workforce is a major challenge. Our sector currently employs almost 250,000 workers to care for 1.3 million people, yet half these workers will soon be of retirement age. This means Australia will need to recruit 650 new workers each month for the next ten years to keep up with the current ratio of aged care workers to older Australians.
Aged care workers, and particularly personal care workers, are some of the most selfless people in our society. They are on the front line, making a positive difference in the lives of older Australians – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year in and year out. This is something our industry is immensely proud of and something our nation is very grateful for. Aged care is an essential workforce for our society, and this will only become more crucial as Australia’s population continues to age.
As the CEO of LASA (Leading Age Services Australia) I recognise how rewarding, yet regularly challenging, the position of caring for some of our nation’s most vulnerable people is. I advocate daily on behalf of our members who are delivering the services necessary to ensure their clients have high-quality care that is safe, meets individual needs and enhances their quality of life.
As the national peak body for aged care, LASA exists to inspire people to want to care, enable people to properly care, and enhance life through care. We believe that the aged care industry should be focused on meeting and exceeding consumer needs and expectations, not just on meeting regulatory minimums.
Through our partnership with ELDAC (End of Life Directions for Aged Care) we are helping to educate, empower and inform the aged care workforce by providing free and easily accessible information that will help build knowledge and skills in the sector.
As a project funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, ELDAC is connecting aged care workers to the latest evidence-based information through five toolkits including the Residential Aged Care toolkit for aged care workers. The toolkits aim to build the skills of people who are dedicated to a rewarding, yet regularly challenging profession in which they must be confident to respond to new, challenging and unpredictable situations every day.
We believe that small changes made frequently can have a significant long-term effect and will help aged care workers to reach the information and services they need, guiding them through eight essential areas for consideration to help them provide quality care right up to the final moments of a person’s life.
Today, as aged care continues to evolve, we all need to think about the future of the aged care workforce and how it can meet the expectations of older Australians – that is, the individual, their family, their carers and their community.
How we care for our ageing is a reflection of who we are as a nation, and a big part of this is ensuring the workforce is adequately equipped to respond to challenges as they arise. This is why LASA, as the national peak body for aged care, is a proud consortium partner of the ELDAC project and encourage our members to access this resource for free information and advice. Visit the website at www.eldac.com.au.
Sean Rooney, CEO, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)