A trend in declining funding, pressure to introduce staffing ratios, an increase in resident complex care needs combined with the difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff – is this the perfect storm in residential aged care workforce management? In isolation, each of these issues can prove challenging for Providers, not only in providing the level of care required for each of its residents but also in the financial viability of the organisation. To support you ‘weather the perfect storm’ we off our thoughts . . .
ACFI subsidies account for nearly 61% of providers’ revenue. Conversely, staff accounts for approximately 67% of costs in residential aged care. For many Providers, it can be challenging to maintain the funding levels they have when residents depart.
Working with our clients we see, that resident onboarding, funding and rostering teams working in isolation of each other. Unfortunately, this results in organisations maintaining rosters at the same staffing level for too long. Compounded by the lack of real-time visibility of occupancy and care requirement actionable change is difficult and puts financial stress on a business.
Integrated technology will support a multi-disciplinary approach by providing the real-time data required for each part of the business to make informed decisions or at the very least drive the internal conversations and collaboration required for better business outcomes.
Complex Care Needs
The Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce report ‘A Matter of Care’ highlights that “Older Australians have increasingly complex care needs that frequently require multidisciplinary services drawn from across aged, health and disability care. However, poor coordination of funding across these systems, along with professional practice and education silos, contribute to reduced access to care, diminished care experience and increased costs for consumers and governments.”
In addition to the increasingly complex care needs of aged care residents, the model of care developed by individual organisations can also significantly influence staffing numbers. In the last 6 to 12 months we have seen a real shift in Providers wanting to share with their consumers (residents and their families) the staff mix rostered as this is seen as a marketing tool to attract residents and staff to their organisation. We find that those Providers who have strong supporting technology together with a collaborative multi-disciplinary team achieve better care outcomes for their residents.
Recruitment & Retention
As the Australian population ages, there is expected to be exponential growth in employment opportunities. The question is, how do we attract and retain talent to the industry?
Recently chatting to a long-serving aged care worker, she said: “I find it really rewarding but at the same time it can be frustrating.” Despite her important role, other health care workers have better pay conditions than she does. This is a common theme with nursing staff reporting that their pay is less than that earned by nurses within other health care settings, whilst care workers feel that their salary does not adequately reflect the level of responsibility required in their work.
Clearly the government needs to address the wage gap between Aged Care and other care professionals, however, organisations can attract and retain staff by ensuring their rosters are fair and equitable.
Providers in the sector will have a much greater chance of remaining viable if they collaborate across their roles, review systems and processes and seek more innovative working models considering alternative options to the traditional models of care historically provided.
One thing is for sure, there is stormy weather ahead and we need to stand together, collaborate, utilise the technology available to us and embrace the changes.