Australia currently has about 2,800 residential aged care facilities providing care to more than 300,000 individuals, almost 8% of the Australian population (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016). Over the next ten years, the number of residents is projected to grow significantly and the highest area of growth will be among residents aged 95 or over. About 6.1 million Australians are aged over 55, but only 6.0% live in retirement villages or residential aged-care facilities (Aged Care Residential Services Market Research, 2016 & King et al., 2013).
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2016) has estimated that around half of aged care residents suffer from dementia and that the number of people who develop the condition will increase from 220,000 currently, to as many as 400,000 by 2020 and between 730,000 and 900,000 by 2050.
Notwithstanding, the diagnosis and treatment of dementia can be significantly improved, providing the sufferer with a better quality of life and their families with support. However, aged care staff are undertrained and under resourced to care for people suffering from debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Australia’s aged care sector is dominated by not-for-profit organisations (58% in residential and 81% in home care). However, over the last decade or so, we have seen an increasing number of for-profit providers enter the aged care market. The aged care sector has also seen a large number of mergers occur within the last decade or so, resulting in larger providers with substantial facilities.
Over the five years through 2015-16, Australia’s aged care industry revenue is expected to grow at 4.5% annually and to reach $18.3 billion. In 2015-16, industry revenue is projected to increase by 4.7% (Aged Care Residential Services Market Research, 2016 & King et al., 2013). The Australian aged care sector is projected to be the fifth largest employer and is one of the largest growing service industries in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013b).
In the next 30 years Australia will see an unprecedented rate of growth of the over 85s in our nation. In 2044 there will be 1.2 million more people aged over 85 than there are today, and the average older Australian will live 5 years longer than today which equates to adding 6 million more years of care just for the increased number of over 85s and just to manage their increased life expectancy.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2014) and the Productivity Commission (2011b) found that Australia’s aged care sector is beset by multiple problems and requires significant changes to deal with future challenges associated with an ageing population. Government and sector responses to these difficulties have involved various recruitment, retention and productivity responses and fragmented funding for staffing innovations and training. However, proposed funding of wage increases have been met with significant resistance by employers and government, resulting in a significant wage gap.
To make matters worse, many employers have substantially influenced the de-skilling of the aged care workforce-the highest qualifications that care workers hold are the Certificate III and IV in Aged Care/Home and Community Care. Aged care providers have reduced the number of registered and enrolled nurses within their residential aged care facilities. As a consequence, Personal care workers account for almost 68% of the aged care workforce. The care workers have been forced to take on the roles of Nurses (Enrolled and Registered).
We are concerned that care workers have been asked and some cases forced to administer medications, such as psychotropic medication and antipsychotics, insulin and so on to aged care patients. Unfortunately, changes to the law allow aged care providers to make aged care workers to dispense mediation to patients. In numerous submissions to the senate, parliamentary inquiries and the Victorian Department of Health, the HWU has lobbied for change and argued that care workers are not adequately supervised or given the opportunity to attain higher qualifications so that they can do the more complex job roles that have been added to their Position Descriptions over the last decade or so.
Most of you would have heard about Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016) and the findings that came out of this very important inquiry. In brief, the Commission’s report called for the development of a 10-year Family Violence Industry Plan with the view of identifying and fixing the inadequacies of the current way our health services deal with domestic violence.
The Victorian Government is developing a 10 year Industry Plan as a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. But for this to be possible, a clearer picture of all workers who, in some way, interact with family violence is needed.
That’s why Victoria’s first family violence workforce census has been developed.
The census is for everyone who plays a role in preventing, identifying and responding to family violence in Victoria. It represents a landmark opportunity for the voices of the workforce to be heard.
Are you an aboriginal health worker, GP, dentist, or nurse? Or perhaps you work in community health, disability, aged care, or public health? Whatever you do, there’s a high chance that you encounter family violence throughout your work ‐ so your input is needed.
The census will collect information related to working conditions and remuneration, qualifications, access to professional development and supervision, workload, and health and well-being.
This is an important chance to have your say on your work and what you need to support you. Your input will help government to plan for the future, and to understand and address workforce challenges.
The census will take no longer than 20 minutes to complete, and can be accessed from work, home or on your handheld device. Complete it now, or put a reminder in your diary!
The survey is open until 5 May 2017. To complete the census, please visit https://vicfvcensus.questionpro.com/.
For further information, FAQs, and information about support services, please visit http://www.vic.gov.au/familyviolence/workforce-census.html If you have any questions about the survey questions or are experiencing technical issues please contact KPMG at AU-FMFVCensus2017@kpmg.com.au or by phone at 03 9838 4750.
With so much that needs to be done to improve the aged care sector, the HWU has been busy representing our aged care members in multiple areas. We have been lobbying the Victorian government to make aged care facilities safer and to invest more money into the sector- to increase care worker pay and work conditions and to introduce Care worker to Patient ratios within our residential aged care facilities.
The HWU has made a submission to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services-Consultation on Draft regulations to replace the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2006. In this submission we called for changes to the requirement that PSA dispense medications and argued that care workers must be adequately supervised or given the opportunity to attain higher qualifications so that they can do the more complex job roles
Our Research Officer, Kamal Bekhazi, has been busy making multiple submissions to the Federal and Victorian government and to the Department of Human Services in an effort to improve our aged care sector and achieve better outcomes for our aged care members. Most recently, the HWU made a quality submission to the Federal Senate Inquiry into Australia’s aged care workforce and was asked to appear before the Senate inquiry (May 2016) to inform the senators of our plans to improve the aged care sector.
The Federal Senate inquiry into Australia’s Aged Care Sector decided to hold their first Public hearing in Melbourne and invited our Assistant Secretary, David Eden and our Research Officer, Kamal Bekhazi, to be the first witnesses to participate in the inquiry.
In short, the HWU made the following recommendations to the senate inquiry:
We are proud to announce the launch of our brand new Aged Care App. It contains useful tools, guides and information for workers including PCA's, Leisure & Lifestyle workers, Enrolled Nurses, Reception, Administration, Maintenance, Gardening, Cleaning, Laundry and others.
The Aged Care App has a number of useful tools and resources:
The HWU Aged Care App has other functions and resources that you can access, but you need to download the APP to get started.
The HWU Aged Care App will be updated regularly to keep members updated about activities relating to the upcoming EBA negotiations and other important information. Keep the app on your phone and keep it close to hand at work for when you need us the most.
Follow the link down below to download our new App onto your respective mobile platform. It is currently available on Android and Apple devices.