The Future of In Home Care – July Article

4 July 2018 - 14 minutes read

The Future of In Home Care – Integrated Care beyond 2020

Article Three, July 2018

Workforce Beyond 2020: Challenges and Strategies

Written by Ilsa Bird – Sector Support Coordinator, Your Side Australia

with contribution from James Flood – Manager of The Meadows, a dementia-specific care home, HammondCare

and Danielle Ballantine – CEO, Your Side Australia 

The integration of CHSP and HCP presents a number of challenges for the aged care workforce. This article outlines some of the challenges that sector will face beyond 2020 as well as strategies to address these challenges. We will look at recommendations for providers from an industry leader, James Flood from HammondCare as well as the strategic actions for the sector as proposed by the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

Firstly, it is important to consider that beyond 2020, the following scenarios are likely to be in place:

  • A single assessment workforce (combined ACAT and RAS)
  • A shift towards more individualised funding and less block funding
  • A level ‘five’ package to bridge the gap between HCP and RCFs and assist older people to stay at home for longer
  • A larger consumer base with higher expectations and more diverse or higher care needs

Workforce challenges for the sector and providers

These scenarios produce considerable challenges for the sector and providers.  When the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce was announced in 2017, the Hon Ken Wyatt stated that the demand for aged care staff was expected to grow from 366,000 to 980,000 by 2050. So how might this shortfall be addressed? The chair of the taskforce, Professor John Pollaers, encourages us to “act now” to create an aged care system that all Australians are proud of. Providers must consider workforce planning around recruitment and retention strategies as well as training and up-skilling opportunities.

James Flood, the manager of a dementia-specific HammondCare home, suggests three strategies that could be implemented to address this shortfall:

  1. Engaging migrants, many of whom have nursing experience in their home countries
  2. Engaging young people who face an increasingly volatile job market. Recruiting Millennials (otherwise known as Gen Y) into an aged care career “offers what few sectors can: work with purpose, opportunities for growth and prospects for job security” Flood says.
  3. Engaging people from a variety of professional backgrounds, not just those with nursing qualifications.

Recruitment

It is clear that providers will continue to have responsibility for recruiting and retaining a well-led, flexible and responsive workforce to provide care for consumers. This means that providers must be innovative and creative with recruitment strategies. This includes holistic care planning to meet the needs of consumers and strategically recruiting high quality staff to meet these needs. Flood suggests providing entry level opportunities for younger people.  “I recommend setting up graduate programs to engage graduates in policy, strategic planning and projects across an organisation” Flood says. Beyond 2020, providers will have a leading role in creating partnerships between the sector and vocational or higher education and employment sectors to boost supply and meet demand.

Providers should source employees who are flexible and resilient to cope with the changing landscape in the sector.  Flood recommends that providers should recruit for passion as this will attract a range of ages and experience. “The workforce is strengthened by intergenerational teams” Flood says.  The Intergenerational Report projects that the proportion of Australians aged over 65 participating in the workforce will increase strongly, from 12.9 per cent in 2014-15 to 17.3 per cent in 2054-55.

To address the challenges surrounding the recruitment, it is also important to address issues surrounding societal perceptions of the aged care sector.  According to a recent study by HESTA, out of those wanting to find a new role in the health and community services sector, less than 10% would consider aged care. It is clear that a career in aged care is not considered to be desirable in mainstream society. Flood suggests that the stigma surrounding the sector must be challenged. Although the taskforce has planned to address this with a societal change campaign, Flood recommends that providers can do this by telling positive stories about your service to create a narrative for change.

Retention

Due to more individualised funding, there may be a shift towards a more casualised workforce.  Currently 2/3 of aged care jobs are part-time or casual. In addition to this, wages in the sector remain relatively low as 60% of aged care employees earn less than $50,000 gross income. Both of these factors impact upon staff retention and are a concern for both employers and employees. For this reason, it is important that providers explore initiatives to retain staff – especially those who are older and experienced and can offer their expertise to other staff. For example, is there an opportunity to promote in-house staff as trainers and educators for new staff? The Aged Care Roadmap outlines the final destination for the aged care sector as “a desirable and rewarding place to work.” So how can we achieve this? Flood recommends investing in people as a key strategy for retaining staff. This can be achieved by placing value on people and providing opportunities for growth and development Flood says.  Practically, this may be achieved is through a staff rewards and recognition program to acknowledge “true heroes” of your organisation Flood states.

Training and up-skilling  

The skillset required for the future aged care workforce has changed to address the needs of the changing consumer profiles. As addressed by the June article, the consumer beyond 2020 is one who has higher expectations of care, has diverse and specific care needs as well as potentially higher care needs with the introduction of a possible ‘level 5’ package.  Staff will require a new mix of skills – frontline care workers will become the face of your organisation, their performance will reflect the marketing for your company. Flood states that “the workforce beyond 2020 should engage people across a range of backgrounds in order to address complex questions around care quality”. This should include a multi-disciplinary team of management and staff with a range of expertise and backgrounds Flood says.

The requirement for new skills allows the opportunities for providers to initiative innovative training and up-skilling opportunities. Some example includes the University of Tasmania MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) that provide free dementia specific short-courses or the Advance Care Planning Australia free online short-courses. HammondCare provides accredited education and training to staff which is underpinned by their values and philosophy of care. Flood recommends that training should not be restricted to formal approaches but should also incorporate opportunities for “hands-on training through buddying with experienced staff.”

Here are seven practical activities for providers recommended by Danielle Ballantine, CEO of Your Side:

  1. Understand your customer pipeline and map your future demand versus your capacity.  You will be able to see and understand over time, peak service periods, low periods and proactively plan and recruit according to these periods.  Monitor your retention and any themes of when staff tend to leave (annual leave, resignation, retirement). Proactively create an employee pipeline so that you have an incoming workforce to source from, rather than wait until the person is absent.
  2. Recruit and train in bulk.  Recruitment and on boarding is expensive.  Hold regular career information evenings, in the community, in schools and at higher education institutions.  Take resumes and hold mini interviews, giving you a source to access when you need it.
  3. Learn about LinkedIn, seek.com profiles and other recruitment platforms to target potential employees. Reach out to passive job hunters, as they may be a potential source. This will save you advertising dollars and time.
  4. Partner with employment service providers and use the work for the dole option to trial potential employees.  Set up a three way partnership with an employment provider and RTO to create a pipeline of trained employees.
  5. Invest in recruitment (e.g. applicant tracking) and on boarding online systems to reduce the cost of recruitment.
  6. Set a “boomerang” target. Employees who leave are generally happy to return once they realise that the grass isn’t always greener or when new opportunities arise. Keep the relationship with past employees close, through newsletters and invitations to major organisational events.
  7. Create and build upon an “employer of choice” brand. Nominate yourself in the AHRI HR Awards to create and build on a profile. The application process will help your think about how you differentiate yourself from other work places.

The Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce Update

The Aged Care Roadmap outlines the destination and pathway for the aged care workforce beyond 2020. This includes:

  • Consistent career pathways across the sector
  • A workforce that is skilled, flexible, knowledgeable and capable to be responsive to the needs of consumers
  • A digitally connected workforce to promote productivity and choice in rural areas
  • Pricing that allows for viable service offerings as well as the ability to recruit and retain staff

In May, Professor John Pollaers, the Chairman of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, announced 15 strategic actions to address some of the challenges facing the sector. The strategic actions focussed on education pathways, skills modelling, societal change, recruitment and retention, funding, continuous improvement, defining the users and consumers in the sector as well as building strong partnerships with other stakeholders.

At the end of June, the taskforce presented to the Hon Ken Wyatt some further details for the key strategies. These will be actionable over the next 1-3 years and provide a foundation for the next seven years. So far, industry peak bodies have committed to the process of establishing a voluntary code of practice and assisting remote and rural providers to have a stronger voice. The IRC will be focussed on improving education and training pathways and quality. It is important to acknowledge that although the taskforce has been appointed to address some of the challenges facing the aged care workforce beyond 2020, both the sector and individual providers must also assist to bear this load.

The August article will focus on innovation and technology. This article will explore the ways in which providers can be creative to increase the efficiency of your organisation and thrive in the market beyond 2020. To receive a copy of this article, sign up to our e-bulletin here, or you can view article series here.

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