Aged care is attracting far more news and headlines than we are accustomed to.
There is a mix of topics related to how the aged care system can be accessed, improved and some specific stories of very challenging failures of care experienced by some individuals. Good care and services should be expected and available to all Australians, no matter where they live.
No doubt, this requires adequate resources to support levels of care that meet community expectations.
Workforce is one of the key topics of focus that has attracted comment at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and further hearings will likely include this area of focus.
It is vitally important that the Australian community respects and acknowledges the importance of working in aged care, and that we encourage individuals to undertake this important work.
Over the next 35 years, Australia faces a huge increase in the number of people who are of a typical age group in which some individuals will seek an aged care service. The 80 to 85 years plus population will increase by up to 400% in actual numbers, whilst at the same time, Australia’s total population is projected to increase by 60%. This discrepancy reflects the significance of the challenge of attracting a far greater number of people to work in aged care services.
The challenge includes how to identify a supply of workers who have the right attributes to contribute to the quality and safety of an individual’s life, and to ensure clearly defined career paths that encourage people to be involved in this important work. The challenge is to value and respect this worthwhile and meaningful work.
Of equal importance is to ensure that there are qualified and skilled leaders to work in aged care.
Good leadership is of key importance in building relationship-centred and evidence based practice that respects consumers and their family carers, and acknowledges the importance and good work of staff who deliver aged care services, as well as the volunteers who support them.
Last week, the SA Innovation Hub hosted a visit from Belinda Dewar, Professor of Practice Improvement, University of the West of Scotland. One of the Hub’s projects focusses on improving leadership skills in aged care using the UK My Home Life leadership model. The Hub is bringing twelve or so competing aged care service providers and their selected staff together, with a common objective of improving outcomes for consumers and developing the leadership required.
We are working together to improve the quality of leaders in aged care.
Opinion piece by Richard Hearn
former CEO Resthaven Incorporated