'Everything is on the table': New taskforce takes on aged care

The aged care workforce will need to nearly triple over the next 30 years. Source: Pexels/Matthias Zomer

With a massive influx of Baby Boomers expected for the aged care system in the next few decades, it’s more important than ever that the facilities are up to scratch. At the beginning of November, the Turnbull government announced the creation of “an expert taskforce to develop a wide-ranging workforce strategy, focused on supporting safe, quality aged care for senior Australians”. 

A taskforce like this doesn’t just happen overnight, and while it’s not a knee-jerk reaction to the recent questionable goings-on in the industry, it is hoped that the taskforce will stop any similar occurrences in the future. 

“Everything is on the table but there are only two things that matter: safety and quality,” Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care, said of the initiative.

According to Wyatt, the taskforce will be reaching out to senior Australians and their families, as well as consumer organisations, informal carers, aged care workers and volunteers in the sector. Unions, universities, health professionals and disability advocates will also be part of the discovery process. 

Read more: The cutting-edge tech making aged care facilities safer

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With Professor John Pollaers acting as chair of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, the project will be exploring short-, medium- and long-term options that will improve the quality of life and satisfaction of those in aged care facilities.

According to Wyatt, we could require almost a million staff members in the aged care sector by 2050; the current workforce is made up of around 360,000 people. 

“Aged care is an industry that matters, and our work will be underpinned by a fundamental understanding of the needs of the consumer now and into the future,” Pollaers said. 

Read more: ‘Safety is non-negotiable’: Nursing home checks set for overhaul

Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) will have a key role in the ongoing project, with its chief executive, Pat Sparrow, appointed to the taskforce. 

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“Getting this right now means securing the sort of workforce the sector needs into the future with the right mix of skills in those areas of most need,” Sparrow said. “Workforce issues are vital to the quality ongoing care of older Australians.” 

The taskforce is expected to deliver a report to Wyatt by June 2018. 

What do you think the taskforce needs to focus on most?