12/03/2008 - 22:00

Not For Profit: Action plan for aged care

12/03/2008 - 22:00

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The aged and community services sector in Western Australian has established an taskforce with private sector participants to develop strategies to deal with labour and building issues.

The aged and community services sector in Western Australian has established an taskforce with private sector participants to develop strategies to deal with labour and building issues.

 

The taskforce has been established by the sector’s peak body, Aged and Community Services Western Australia, and is named Work Action Review.

 

It brings together a diverse group of professionals for a series of six workshops designed to learn from the experience of other sectors and to view current industry concerns through new eyes.

 

Taskforce chair and Amana Living chief executive, Ray Glickman, said WAR would be looking at the image of the aged care sector and considering steps that can be taken to make it more attractive to workers.

 

He said the taskforce would also look at how the sector can make the most of its positives, such as the greater scope for salary packaging, the option to progress through a career structure and the rewarding personal nature of the work.

 

“We want to embrace things to do for ourselves and not only seek government support,” Mr Glickman said He said every industry in WA was facing the same problems, and so the aged care sector should be able to learn from experience elsewhere.

 

ACS chief executive and WAR secretary Stephen Kobelke said the difficulties facing the sector in recruiting and retaining workers had steadily reached a crisis point, and we’re getting worse.

 

Mr Kobelke said that, while both tiers of government had increased workforce funding in the general health field, this has been to the detriment of the aged and community sector, which was funded by the commonwealth under special provisions.

 

“One of the major factors we are currently facing is that our funding levels do not allow the sector to compete on wages with other health industries, which causes increasing difficulties in attracting, training and retaining the staff required,” he said.

 

An added problem was that the aged and community sector had to operate seven days a week, which stretched staffing even more, Mr Kobelke said According to Mr Glickman, “the situation is dire in current labour market.

 

Being a low paid profession against the competitive pressures of mining is difficult and expensive to overcome.” An interrelated issue, Mr Kobelke said, was the building and construction of new facilities, such as nursing homes, retirement villages and care institutions.

 

“Costs have gone through the roof, and the time to get through local government has extended, to the point where care groups don’t bother, because often they can’t get staff even if they do build,” he said.

 

Mr Kobelke believes this will pose serious problems for the community.

 

“There is a mountain of baby boomers moving towards retirement.

 

The number of people [needing care] is expected to double in the next 20 years,” he said.

 

Although there have only been two workshops so far, Mr Kobelke said he feels encouraged by the cross section of solutions and ideas that are coming forward, adding that “it gives [us] a sense of hope and support”.

 

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