In 2020, there were approximately 4.2 million people aged 65 and over in Australia. That’s around 16% of the country's total population.
Australia’s aged care system includes a range of services, not just residential care. However, the number of aged care facilities in Australia hasn't changed significantly over the past five years.
This is surprising when we consider the increase in government funding to the sector and the fact the ageing population in Australia is growing significantly.
So, it’s little wonder there are problems in the Australian aged care sector. However, all isn't lost. Training of aged care support workers could be the key to relieving some of the problems experienced.
In this article, we aim to explore some of the problems in the aged care sector and the role that training can play in retaining and attracting new staff. Let’s get started.
This will come as no surprise to anyone, but the pandemic caused many problems for the aged care sector in both home care and residential care.
But what might surprise you is that, in 2020, three-quarters of Covid-19 deaths in Australia were in residential aged care homes.
Experts say that the reasons for this include:
Overall, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted two main issues: there aren't enough staff in the aged care sector, and staff haven't been trained adequately.
So the pandemic should certainly be a wake-up call that more needs to be done to train staff in this sector.
It’s estimated that around a quarter, or 140,000, of all aged care shifts, go unfilled each week. This is due to workforce shortages and was compounded during pandemic waves and lockdowns.
A shortage can cause considerable strain on the staff, quality of aged care, and safety of both staff and patients. Difficult decisions have to be made by overworked staff to determine what essential care can be provided and what can’t.
This increases the possibility of issues in work health and safety in aged care as corners have to be cut to complete the most basic of duties.
Considering the above points, it’s unsurprising that the quality of care administered in the aged care sector can suffer.
With staff being overworked and under-trained, it can lead to job dissatisfaction. In addition, it could potentially mean aged care compliance standards suffer.
Job dissatisfaction can lead to staff wanting to leave the job altogether and seek employment elsewhere, leading to higher staff turnover rates.
This is particularly relevant for senior members of staff who have to put their workload on hold in order to help the overburdened staff providing essential care.
So, how can training help with some of the issues raised? Can training really play a role in attracting and retaining staff? We think so, and here’s why…
Staff being hugely overworked and dealing with problems they’re untrained for can lead to staff feeling undervalued.
By providing staff with training opportunities, you enable them to develop in their role. You also help them feel valued by showing you're willing to commit to their progression.
Showing that they’re a valued team member is essential to maintaining motivation and job satisfaction, which is vital to enticing staff to stay in their role.
Repeating the same mundane tasks each day can be draining, leaving people to wonder, “Is this it?” By offering training, you can add variety to your team’s workday and help to break up the mundane.
Training can help staff learn new skills or manage certain aspects of their schedules more efficiently. This makes their lives easier, but it also helps improve aged care quality and safety.
In addition, providing your staff with training opportunities can help vary their workload and keep their role interesting.
If staff feel overworked and have to do multiple people’s jobs due to shortages, they may feel powerless. This can lead them to job dissatisfaction and ultimately cause them to leave their position.
To avoid this, empowering your staff to develop new skills and knowledge can bring a new sense of purpose and confidence to their role.
Knowing that they’re valued enough for you to invest in them can help them know their voice is heard and ultimately improve their job satisfaction and performance.
Despite the fantastic service people in the aged care sector provide, the area lacks public appeal, which means it struggles to attract new staff.
Offering training to workers benefits them and your organisation, but it can also improve the public’s perception of the job.
People want to feel valued, invested in, and like they are making a difference.
If the aged care sector became an industry known for offering learning opportunities and progression, it would be a more attractive career for people to consider.
Though some people are happy staying in a job that doesn’t have any career progression, many see career progression as a top priority and they won’t consider a job that doesn’t offer this.
Training allows staff to obtain and learn new knowledge and skills, which they can then take into their role, improving their overall care and quality of service. It can also allow staff to take on more responsibility and help them to move up into managerial or specialist areas.
Providing staff with career progression attracts new people to the job and thus grows your organisation and will help you retain staff. In addition, it allows workers to feel valued and have a reason to stay in a job with progression rather than moving on elsewhere.
Working in the aged care sector is not easy, especially in current times. Chronic understaffing and overworking can result in job dissatisfaction and reduced staff retention.
In addition, many workers have to choose which essential work to do for clients, resulting in poor care quality.
Aged care support worker training can empower staff and help them feel more valued in their role.
In addition, it allows for career progression, which is a critical factor in retaining and attracting staff and can help the overall public perception of the role.
If you want to know more about what we do or how we can help you, enjoy a free trial of our residential aged care software.
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