What are home care providers worrying about? This latest report shows that the biggest issue home care providers are currently facing are to do with workforce.
A recently published report from the team at Enkindle Consulting Pty Ltd looks at the results from a March 2023 national survey that heard from home care providers on matters of reform, challenges and priorities for the year ahead. The report’s authors, Jennene Buckley and Tash Edwards “wanted to provide a voice to Home Care Providers on matters of reform, sustainability and hope this report articulates the important matters in Home Care in this coming year.”
One of the key takeaways from the report is that the number one challenge facing home care providers is workforce shortages. Skilled workers are stretched across all industries with many aged care workers moving out of the sector. The increased turnover and managing staff fatigue were also significant factors in the challenges faced by home care providers.
Our team wanted to delve deeper into the study so we posed the following questions to Tash and Jennene.
From your report, workforce challenges are the biggest issue facing providers - were you surprised by this?
Population projections over the last decade have warned us of these looming workforce shortages which is unfortunately with us for the next couple of decades at least. What we may not have predicted is the additional factors, such as the COVID19 pandemic and the Aged Care reform which is funding increased minimum staffing levels in residential aged care and additional funding for home care. It is like the perfect storm, increased demand for aged care workers and reduced supply. The talent pools have shrunk, and the traditional recruitment approach of posting a job add on a job board and receiving a pool of skilled and experienced applicants to choose from is no longer the reality for providers.
Given your expertise in the area, what are one or two things that need to change in the industry to address the workforce challenges?
As mentioned above, workforce shortages are going to be a constant for providers for many years to come. We must attract job seekers into the industry and ensure they love their job. The providers that focus on their employee experience will manage this better than those that do not. Those who get to know their employee’s likes and dislikes and turn those insights into actions that improve the employee experience will be better positioned to attract and retain their workforce…right now we believe the best recruitment strategy is to retain your current workforce.
The other thing that needs to be acknowledged is that this is not a short-term issue, the predictions by research organisations across the globe are that the shortages will continue for years, due to the ageing population, and in addition, here in Australia, we also have reform items such as care minutes, 24/7 nursing driving the need for a larger workforce. Many of the initiatives out there are great but don’t address the long-term gaps. A larger strategy is needed that not only looks at attracting workers to the sector and investing in their education and training but also, as a sector designing new ways of working and new models of care to ensure that we have a workforce into the future that meets the needs of our ageing population.
Have you done the survey in the past? Have workforce issues loomed as large in the past for providers?
This is the first time we have done this survey, and we were happy to have over 380+ home leaders participate. We aim to do a follow-up survey in July, focusing on better understanding the workforce challenges from the provider’s perspectives and what they are doing to address these challenges.
Despite the challenges, what are providers feeling hopeful about?
The Fair Work Australia’s interim decision to increase wages for aged care workers by 15%, and the government’s decision to fund this increase creates enormous hope for the industry as far as aged care workers receiving a fair wage. There is also hope for this to be increased to 25% which will certainly help providers attract and retain aged care workers. Although the new suite of regulations on increased reporting of the quality of care and client experience takes time and resources, the transparency of aged care providers will hopefully rebuild the trust in the aged care system that older people need and providers deserve. There are absolutely amazing, aged care providers out there with the most dedicated staff. I hope through greater transparency, we get to hear of the amazing work that the industry does under what has been difficult circumstances.
To become a care or support worker, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/carer
To find aged care services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/aged-care-workers
To find disability support services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/disability-support-workers
To make a referral, please visit https://www.careseekers.com.au/referrals
Source: Home Care Provider Outlook Report 2023 - Key Priorities For Home Care Providers by Jennene Buckley & Tash Edwards, Enkindle Consulting Pty Ltd