Claire Field on the challenge to skill-up aged care


There are huge changes ahead for tertiary institutions delivering education and training for the aged care sector

Last month I worked my way through the first volume of the final report of the Aged Care Royal Commission (a not insignificant 340 pages). Significant changes, including better pay, are needed if the sector is to attract the 80,000 additional workers it needs by 2030 and the 180,000 extra required by 2050.

This week the Australian Aged Care Collaboration published its response to the Royal Commission. Collectively the Collaboration represents approximately 70 per cent of providers in the aged care sector. Their response indicates support for the Royal Commission’s recommendations related to the education and professional development of the aged care workforce.

Those include:

* introducing a national registration scheme which includes mandatory minimum qualifications and on-going professional development requirements

* reviewing undergraduate curricula for health professionals: nursing, medicine, audiology, optometry, dietetics, dental practice, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, osteopathy, podiatry, physiotherapy and speech therapy

* the Aged Care Services Industry Reference Committee reviewing the content of the Certificate III and IV qualifications to determine if they should contain more core units

* introducing mandatory dementia training, and for those working in residential aged care, mandatory training in specialist palliative care

* introducing training in cultural safety and trauma-informed service delivery

* targets for the training and employment of Indigenous people

* the Skills National Cabinet Reform Committee fast-tracking development of accredited nationally recognised short courses, skill sets and micro-credentials.

In summary, there are huge changes ahead for tertiary institutions delivering education and training for the aged care sector.

For all of our sakes we need to hope there is sufficient money in the Federal Budget to enact these and other critical changes recommended by the Royal Commission. And then the work on their implementation begins in earnest…

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector