Despite being one of the more rewarding professions out there, admittedly, aged care comes with its fair share of challenges. Professionals in this industry are not immune to these changes, especially with a dearth of funding and resources available.
However, this means it has become more important than ever to look to the future and understand what the challenges are, and prepare accordingly.
Some of the key challenges facing aged care in Australia that are worth thinking about when constructing an overall annual strategy are discussed below:
1) Lack of skilled staff
Quality aged care is extremely reliant on staff, and their unique skills. Over time, it has become increasingly clear that there is a severe lack of staff possessing the skills needed to delivery care that is truly outstanding. And this is becoming more apparent with rising demands for staff, but no way to fulfil that. Leading industry bodies such as Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) have touched on this issue.
According to them, “”Based on the projections for service growth to 2023, it is estimated that there will need to be an additional 55,770 full-time equivalent (FTE) care workers (37,620 in residential aged care and 18,150 in community aged care) over the decade from 2013 to 2023,” ACSA CEO and Adjunct Professor John Kelly said.”
He has further stated that federal governments must push forward to meet these workforce demands. This necessitates the need for reform in order to address this issue, and meet the demands needed to deliver aged care in the best way possible.
2) Heavy regulation
Aged care in Australia consistently sees higher regulation than other industries. While the existence of regulation does benefit both the older people and the aged care service providers, there still needs to be some measures to implement real change.
The Australian Parliament admits it themselves, stating, “The aged care sector is one of the most highly regulated in Australia. There is little dispute over the need for regulations that protect residents. However, some regulations are considered by the aged care sector to be an unnecessary burden.”
Acknowledging that is a key challenge facing aged care in Australia is the first step. Currently, the Commonwealth is responsible for regulating all aspects of aged care. This ranges from setting subsidies, allocating licenses as well as assessing older Australians for an aged care place. These measures were meant to control expenditure and manage supplies.
However, commentators and advocacy groups have expressed disapproval and there are proposals to abandon these measures. This would enable greater consumer choice as well as encourage competition. However, there are risks associated with that, as explained by RSM’s National Head of Aged Care, Bruce Bailey depending on how the government chooses to deregulate. It remains unclear what the regulatory future holds for aged care in Australia but it will definitely be an issue to keep watch of going forward.
3) Long term financial stability
With a lack of skilled staff, coupled with uncertain regulatory measures, another key challenge facing aged care in Australia is long-term financial stability of these service providers. The burden is shifting on to service providers to consistently maintain quality and provide excellent care in the face of shrinking budgets, and it remains a looming challenge for aged care services everywhere.
A report compiled by RCM states that financial stability and “sustainability of the industry is fundamentally linked to its capacity to attract capital to fund the development of the places needed over the coming decade.” There is investment needed in many sectors of the aged care service itself, and the industry’s long-term future will very much be dictated by its investments in the short-term.
While there are many key challenges facing aged care in Australia, the best way to prepare for them is to keep informed of what is currently happening in the industry and what that will mean on an individual level for each segment of the industry.
To learn more about aged care in Australia and key challenges facing aged care, please do not hesitate to contact us.