Community aged care in Australia: the need for innovative programmes to boost workforce capacity

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Pauline Savy Australian Catholic University, Australia

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Suzanne Hodgkin Australian Catholic University, Australia

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Erin Conway Australian Catholic University, Australia

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Across Western nations, ‘ageing in place’ policies rely on having a sufficient and skilled aged care workforce. In Australia, due to the impact of successive policy reforms, this workforce including the sector that provides community-based services has declined in number and skills. At the same time the need to upskill and sustain this workforce has intensified as the frailty and health needs of consumers have increased. This paper reports on an integrative literature review undertaken during 2021 to describe workforce needs and peer reviewed reports of programs instituted in aged care settings that aimed to address these needs.

The review sought to examine programs implemented in both long-term and community care settings and to draw from these elements that may be utilised in future program design across the sector. It focussed primarily on workforce deficits in the community aged care sector and on the capacity of rurally-based services to meet and respond to growing consumer demand. The findings emphasise current workforce deficits while they also reveal a paucity of peer-reviewed reports of implemented programs across the sector as a whole. Nevertheless, the few programs examined in this review provide examples of the capacity and willingness of workers and providers to trial measures that aim to increase the recruitment, retention, skill and job-satisfaction of direct care workers. We propose that the key elements of the programs identified in this paper provide the foundation for the development of strategically designed programs that address particular workforce needs such as those shaped by rural contexts.

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Pauline Savy Australian Catholic University, Australia

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Suzanne Hodgkin Australian Catholic University, Australia

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Erin Conway Australian Catholic University, Australia

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