The next decade is shaping up to be an unprecedented period of change for the aged care industry. The aged population is poised to nearly triple by 2050, and as individuals they will likely live longer than ever before. The regulatory environment will have to change to respond to unprecedented need for services. In the medium to long term, the industry will go through an incredible amount of growth and change – not only to keep up with demand and regulatory change, but also to compete against more diverse competitors.
However, with growth comes both opportunity and difficulty. While the industry will no doubt benefit from automation and technology advancements, it cannot replace the human touch of the aged care workforce. While technology solutions can be scaled, skilled and empathetic workers cannot. So, aged care providers who want to take full advantage of these growth opportunities need to overcome the key difficulty facing everyone in the industry – how do we attract (and keep!) far more workers to the industry, so we can keep up with demand?
Expanding the pie - working together
This has been a big problem for some time, and it is only going to get bigger without bold and decisive action. For this reason, the industry as a whole would benefit from working together to support and invest in change - no matter how much individual companies do, as an industry, we can do much more together. This collective commitment might be achieved via the key industry bodies, and could include new joint initiatives focused on:
attracting young people with a service and community mindset;
attracting older workers – a demographic which has rising levels of underemployment and skills and perspectives that can be useful to the industry;
creating a more positive perception around opportunities for individuals, including career progression, personal growth and being able to “make a difference”;
lobbying government to support education initiatives in nursing and other health care; and
close consultation with Government on what can be practically done on a funding and regulatory level to make it less difficult and complex to hire and retain employees in the sector.
Taking the lead - how to respond now
Getting the industry as a whole behind attracting more workers is a big step, but for individual employers the key will be in how they each differentiate their business and ultimately attract the best people. Some points to consider:
Are you actively investing in hiring workers who can grow with your company?
Do you offer further training or development opportunities?
Are you creating work cultures that people want to be a part of?
Are you thinking about your “employer brand” and how this can help you hire people in competitive situations?
Major policy development is required to improve employment conditions, training and salaries as an imperative to care for the elderly in Australia. The challenge, from a Government-level, to industry-level, to enterprise-level is to create appropriate pathways, incentives and cultures that will attract a strong work force as nothing less is required to meet the future demands of the ageing population.
This blog post does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is a general commentary on matters that may be of interest to you. Formal legal or other professional advice should be sought before acting or relying on any matter arising from this communication.