Workforce Concerns on Australia’s Residential Care

Residential Care
Residential Care

Residential care means long-term caring for adults (mostly seniors) and children. The caregiver and the person being cared for usually stay in a residential care center. But it can also be done in the comfort of the patient’s own home. The duration for residential care can either be short or long term. That depends on the needs of the persons being assisted.

There are privately-owned residential homes and there are also government-owned ones. The government funds these centers to make it affordable for those who can no longer live independently.

In a residential care home or center, the elderly are assisted with their daily needs. The typical day-to-day needs include personal ones like bathing, dressing, toilet needs. It depends on how able the elderly is. Giving meals and medicines are also done for the elderly. Even forms of entertainment are included in a residential home.  The goal is to ensure that the emotional, social, mental, and psychological needs are filled-up, and not only physical.

Quick Statistics on the Workforce

As per data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were about 216, 300 residential care workers in 2013.  They mostly work for aged seniors or the elderly. Also, there are about 356,500 workers for those who have disabilities. Most workers, about 80 percent, are women. Half of these workers are part-timers.

Concerns on the Workforce

The residential care sector is currently in need of more workers. Many people need help and assistance. But the residential care sector finds it hard to attract and retain its workers. There are two reasons for this. One is the relatively lower pay compared to other industries. Despite the heavy demands at work, many feel that the pay is not commensurate. The second reason is the seeming lack of employment opportunities and growth.

There is a big shortage now of nurses who wish to do residential care. The Health Workforce Australia (HWA) estimates that in 2025, the shortage will reach 100,000. Thus, in Australia, the shortage of skilled workers has an impact on the country. Thus, policies for this sector are currently being looked into.

Caring for the Elderly

Before the year 2050, the estimated workers needed for the aged care sector would increase double or triple. This data is according to the Department of Health and Ageing. The growing number of elderly is a big concern for the country.

Caring for the Elderly
Caring for the Elderly

Many countries face the same situation. The lack of workers from the local pool is constantly increasing. That is why many countries attract talents and workers from different parts of the world to fill the jobs needed. Australia then even competes with other countries for residential care workers.

Over the years, Australia has also done different measures to help the industry. In 2012-2013, Australia introduced the Workforce Compact. This Compact has provisions to help employers.  This is done by giving them government-provided workforce supplement payments. With this, the employer can raise their wages to possibly retain or attract workers.

However, this policy was later on dismantled. Despite the good objectives of retaining and growing the workers, there were concerns. Some employers did not sign the Compact because the funding promised to be given was not enough to subsidize for the supposed wage increase.

There were conflicts in the position of this policy. Union groups welcomed this. But there were some concerns from the providers’ group or the Aged and Community Services Australia and Catholic Health.

Caring for Children

Similar to the situation of caring for the elderly, there is also a shortage of skilled workers who can take care of children. The early child childhood education and care (ECEC) sector is also in dire need of staff.

Caring for Children
Caring for Children

According to the United Voice, the union for the ECEC sector, an estimated 180 educators resign every week. The reasons are similar to the elderly sector. It is because of the very low wages and poor work conditions.

The Australian government also tried to address this issue from the ECEC sector. Through the Early Years Quality Fund (EYQF), $300 million were provided as an aid to the long daycare center (LDCC). This budget is supposedly meant to offset the costs needed by employers to hire the right qualified staff. EYQF will supplement the wages with $3 to about $5 per hour for those who passed the qualifications. The EYQF includes funds for the Pay Equity Unit in the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Despite these, there had also been concerns. The FWC’s stand is that the ECEC workforce is not satisfied with the scope and how the government assists the sector. They say that the proposed wage increase will only apply to less than 40% of the workers. EYQF views that there is a huge inadequacy. Their position is to have a broader wage increase across the whole sector and not to a select few only. Thus, the government will review it again.

In Summary

There is a need to review the current situation of residential care workers for both adults and children. There will be a huge shortage of staff predicted in the near future. But despite the concerns surrounding the industry, there are still many residential centers that continue with their mission of caring. One example is Homestyle Aged Care Belmont. They provide permanent and respite residential aged care. Every team member is highly dedicated to serving and caring. They have the passion and experience to make residents feel the care they deserve. Visit them to know more.

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