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‘We look forward to working in collaboration with government’

We’ve long advocated for a coordinated approach to workforce planning in aged care and believe the minister’s commitment is a further step in the right direction, writes Sandra Hills.

We welcome the comments from Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley this week that the government intends to partner with the aged care sector in relation to workforce planning.

While we understand and agree that the primary responsibility for workforce should still sit with aged care organisations, we look forward to working in collaboration with government and the broader sector as we continue to address some of the challenges presented by workforce issues.

Ensuring we get workforce planning right as a sector is everybody’s business; older people, their families, carers and the community benefit if we have the right people in the right jobs.

We know that our population is ageing and entering the aged care system with increasingly complex needs. Ensuring we have the right strategies in place, both as a sector and as individual organisations, means we will have a pipeline of highly qualified, experienced and committed staff ready to deliver high quality aged care that is responsive, flexible and best meets the needs of those we work with.

One of the most common challenges discussed when we consider the aged care workforce is the notion of high turnover rates, but in fact some organisations manage to keep these relatively low. We need to think creatively and innovatively as an industry to identify what engagement strategies these businesses put in place and share our learnings to ensure we keep good quality staff happy and satisfied in their roles.

At Benetas, these learnings come through initiatives such as our biannual staff engagement survey, which gives us insight into how we can best support and nurture our staff at all levels.

It would be valuable to also consider engagement initiatives successfully implemented in pockets of the sector, particularly related to attracting appropriate and highly skilled older people, school leavers or other potential employees seeking to re-enter the workforce, or look at learnings from other industries, such as hospitality and manufacturing, around how we support and empower our frontline staff to take on leadership roles.

We also need to consider some of the challenges starting to present in the delivery of home care services, such as how we balance increasing client choice with the availability of care workers.

None of these issues or solutions are new, however now is the time to get our approach right. Benetas has long advocated for a coordinated approach to workforce planning in aged care and we believe Minister Ley’s commitment is a further step in the right direction.

Sandra Hills is the CEO of Benetas. 

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