How can we attract and retain qualified and committed aged care workers?

What’s the problem?

As the demand for aged care services increases, it follows that so too will the number and availability of these services.

Alt text However, all these services need workers to run them. And attracting and retaining aged care workers is predicted to become an increasing challenge in Australia.

While job satisfaction is generally high for those working in aged care, the pay doesn’t always compare well to other sectors and the job is a demanding one. In addition, the aged care workforce is itself under threat from ageing, with this workforce significantly older than the national average.

The challenge of attracting and retaining aged care workers is being recognised nationally. This is why, in December 2015, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee began an inquiry in to the Future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce. The terms of reference included a whole range of future aged care workforce requirements.

Seven things you need to know

In 2012, the National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey conducted by the National Institute of Labour Studies found that:

  • More than 240,000 workers are employed in direct care roles in the aged care sector.

  • The majority of the aged care workforce is female, although males have increased their share in the residential and community sectors (now at 10 per cent of the direct care workforce).

  • The workforce is generally older than the national workforce and ageing further. The median age for residential direct care workers is 48 years while for community direct care workers it is 50 years.

  • Most direct care workers are employed on a permanent part-time basis (72% of those in residential facilities and 62% in community outlets).

  • About half of the direct care workforce work between 16–34 hours per week.

  • Around a quarter of the residential direct care workforce and a third of the community direct care workforce would like to increase their hours; while around 16 per cent of direct care workers across the sector want to decrease their hours (mostly nurses).

  • Job satisfaction is high across all areas except for pay.

Want more? Watch our infographic video about caring for the elderly here.

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