As Australia’s population ages at an unprecedented rate, aged care providers are under immense pressure to redefine their employment practices.
With Australians living longer than ever before, the demand for aged care is burgeoning. Following the changes to the aged care system announced in the Federal Government’s 2015 Budget, a move from a welfare-style aged care system, to a market-based model, where Australians choose their own care services, is being rolled out.
The ageing of Australia’s population is expected to continue rapidly, due to health advancements and increasing life expectancy, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent data. Concurrently, as the population ages, so do the workers who care for them, leaving a potential future shortage to contend with.
In 2012, people aged 65 years and over made up 14 per cent of Australia’s population; this is projected to increase to 22 per cent in 2061 and to 25 per cent in 2101. The over-85s, who have even greater care needs, are growing at an even faster rate; they currently make up 2 per cent of the population but this figure is projected to grow rapidly to 6 per cent by 2101.
In what can only be described as a period of uncertainty for the sector, the challenges faced by aged care providers also offer an opportunity to develop an effective workplace management structure that will ensure the most efficient practices and highest standards of care are met.
“One of the major challenges aged care service providers face in the current climate is the looming under-supply of skilled and qualified aged-care workers,” Chris Waxman, General Manager for Labour Solutions Australia (LSA) Health said.
“Also, the increased competition as the sector moves towards a market-based model means it is more important than ever for quality care services to be upheld whilst tailoring them to the specific needs of each client.
“The benefits of having a workforce management program in place is that it can allow for a scalable workforce to be able to deliver care solutions exactly where and when they are needed, at a time of huge change in the industry.”
An effective workforce management specialist can tailor workforce solutions to suit a provider’s needs, and continue to meet market demands by sourcing the best qualified employees in a shrinking market – ensuring optimum resourcing levels are maintained.
They can also reduce recruitment, administration, absenteeism and other labour-related overheads, monitor and manage employees’ performances, and mitigate risks inherent with traditional labour sourcing.
“By assessing the amount and types of labour needed at any given time to maintain a high standard of service delivery, a detailed workforce management strategy can be a highly effective solution to managing labour,” Mr Waxman said.
As the aged care sector heads into a new and challenging future, providers are under increasing pressure to step up and meet those challenges. Partnering with professional workforce management and employment experts is a way to optimise profitability and productivity, and to maintain superior service standards as aged care enters a new era.