We need more workers in the caring industry
Australia is facing a worrying shortage of workers in the care industry.
As our population ages at an unprecedented rate, we will need to triple our aged care workforce over the next 30 years to meet growing health demands. To give you a quick snapshot of what this looks like, a PwC report estimated that an extra 85,000 nurses and 180,000 aged-care workers will be needed over the next seven years. Additionally, the NDIS will require 90,000 extra full-time workers across Australia by 2023 – almost double the current disability workforce. No wonder some are calling it a crisis waiting to happen.
But it isn’t just a worker’s set of skills that is in high demand. Many of us, especially those with personal experience caring for a loved one, know that doing the job isn’t enough – we need workers with the right attitude, and who genuinely care for the people they help. To quote Ian Yates, Council on the Ageing’s chief executive:
“Older Australians constantly tell us that staff attitudes and skills are one of the most important aspects of aged care to them. Ensuring we can recruit and retain the most dedicated, highest skilled and most empathetic staff is critical to continuing to deliver the very best quality care to Australians in later life.”
So how do we find these workers in the next decade or so? It’s a complex question with no easy answers. But one way forward, according to the government Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, is changing people’s attitudes towards caring roles.
Thanks to negative stereotypes, working in aged and disability care is not a highly-sought after career path. Unless you, a family member or a friend has been personally helped by someone, it can be easy to overlook this sector of the jobs market, even though demand has seen substantial growth over the past decade. Stories from the Aged Care Royal Commission and Disability Royal Commission, while important to hear and shine a light on, can also have an impact on those who do incredible work, many of whom are being burnt out by the constant negative media portrayal.
We need to share the good stories too – ones that show the incredible value that care workers bring to our community. As an agency that offers home care services, for example, our team members don’t just clock in and out of a job. They love what they do, whether that’s helping someone access their home care package, looking after a client’s health and well being, or providing families who care tirelessly with much-needed reprieve. They are genuinely committed to helping people experience the quality of life they deserve.
We must share this passion with future job-seekers – with young people choosing a field of study, older people looking to change careers, or those who want a more fulfilling vocation than the daily grind. After all, how we care for our older folk and those living with a disability says something about who we are as a country. By promoting the good our workers do, we will benefit not just our industry, but our communities too.