Australians expect a safe, high-quality aged care system and deserve nothing less.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety currently underway offers a unique opportunity to give national focus to the future of Australia’s aged care system that is consistent with community expectations and the resources required to meet these.
I welcome this focus on quality and safety and the opportunity to consider how any systemic failures of the past are not repeated in the future. However, I am concerned that the negativity surrounding specific events highlighted in the Royal Commission may deter people from working in an industry that impacts positively on the quality of life of so many individuals. It is a sector that is growing exponentially with an increasing number of jobs and career opportunities.
Working in aged care is a valuable and personally rewarding career choice. I have great respect and gratitude for those thousands of people who choose to work in aged care. It is an honour to support older people and those people who care for them. It is meaningful and fulfilling work with a sense of purpose, making a real difference in daily lives.
Those who are about to join the workforce for the first time would do well to consider a career in aged care. There are so many opportunities across a variety of fields. The important hands-on caring roles of nurses, care assistants and home support workers are supported by those working in hospitality and housekeeping services, administration, maintenance, managers and coordinators, finance, information technology, and human resources, to name just a few.
Australia needs to reaffirm the value of this most important work and the genuine contributions of aged care workers in supporting the quality of life of older people. Aged care workers and those thinking of this important and meaningful work deserve positive acknowledgement and reinforcement. This is vital if we want the well trained, experienced, and quality workforce required to respond to the significant demand for services now and into the future. This is critically important.
We need to shift outcomes and perceptions, and appreciate the value of working with older people and their families.
The new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is the government’s ‘one-stop quality and safety’ resource with one phone number for all concerns or queries – 1800 951 822 that commenced on 1 January 2019. It is also important and I encourage people to raise any concerns regarding a service directly with the relevant service provider.
Opinion piece by Richard Hearn
CEO Resthaven Incorporated