Australia’s aged-care sector losing 65,000 workers every year, report finds

Australia‘s aged-care sector is short of 35,000 workers, with about 18,000 staff members having left the industry since August, a new report has revealed.

The report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia highlights a staffing “crisis” in Australia’s aged-care sector, which has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report has found the sector is likely losing around 65,000 workers each year, with another 8000 workers are desperately needed to meet the international best practice standards of care for aged-care residents.

The aged care sector has come under particular strain during the pandemic. (Virginia Starr)

However, Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) interim CEO Paul Sadler has said his team believe much more than 800 workers are needed.

“We believe it could be closer to 20,000,” he said.

“The CEDA report highlights the need for urgent action to ensure older Australians do not miss out on care and support.”

The aged-care workforce was already under significant pressure with staff shortages, low pay and poor working conditions, before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issues, the report details.

“For a workforce that was already burnt out prior to COVID-19 this has been the breaking point for many,” it reads.

“Many have chosen to leave the sector.”

A survey by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation earlier this year found one in five workers intended to leave their job in the next year.

Intimate look at frontline COVID-19 workers reveals pandemic reality

Almost two in five planned to leave in the next one to five years.

Sadler said the federal government would have difficulty achieving its aged care policy priorities of Registered Nurses in aged care homes 24/7 and minimum care minutes without immediate action.

“Funding is a key issue. We welcome the government’s commitment to fund a pay increase for aged care workers arising from the Fair Work Commission work value case due later this year or early next year.

The government is expected to announce the indexation figure for 2022-23 sometime this week, which will indicate how much subsidies paid to providers to provide aged care will increase in the coming year.

In this March 19, 2021, file photo, a nurse tends to a patient affected by COVID-19 virus in the ICU unit at the Ambroise Pare clinic in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Nurses are increasingly leaving their jobs. (AP)

Sadler said ACCPA was working with the government to examine ways tp make working in aged care more attractive, including higher pay, improved training and better working conditions.

South Australian workers were meant to take part, but the workplace tribunal blocked strike action in that state over concern for the welfare of aged care residents.

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