OVERCOMING THE AGED AND DISABILITY CARE WORKER CRISIS
It’s no secret the aged and disability support sector is in a state of crisis.
Every year, we’re seeing exponential growth in Australia’s ageing populations, and the number of people living with a disability. Plus we’re experiencing a surge in demand for personalised care services following the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Quite frankly, our sector is struggling to keep up with the demand. It’s one of the biggest challenges we face.
Despite the important work we do, the care industry is characterised by low pay rates and poor employment opportunities.
We have an ageing workforce trying to service an ageing population.
Service providers are fighting to attract and retain appropriately skilled workers.
Clients are being impacted by high staff turnover and interrupted continuity of care.
No-one is winning.
And yet, to meet the demands of a burgeoning ageing population, over the next couple of decades we must almost triple the aged care workforce. That’s one million skilled aged care workers alone by 2050. And that’s not even considering the needs of people living with a disability.
As caring professionals, we need to ask ourselves how we can bridge the skills shortage to ensure we can continue enriching people’s lives.
How do we shift our societal beliefs around ageing so that age and disability care workers are celebrated for the important life enhancing work they do?
How can we create an environment that nurtures the wellbeing of our staff and our clients?
How do we support and engage our carers amidst tight budgets and heavy workloads?
At Coastlink, we believe we can create meaningful change together, as a sector, for the greater good.
We’re dedicated to overcoming the care worker crisis so we can continue helping the people in our community to reach their fullest potential.
Here’s three ways we’re doing it.
Attracting and retaining the best staff begins and ends with culture.
At Coastlink, our culture is defined by our values. We live and breathe honesty, accountability, inclusion, respect and empathy at every corner.
Our leaders lead with care – for our people and our clients.
We believe everyone should live a life of choice, and we hire people who believe the same. They are already motivated by the desire to serve others, we simply inspire them to keep evolving, growing and serving.
The people that make up our care workforce are crucial to the wellbeing of our clients now, and in the future. And they’re our greatest asset.
We’ve become an Employer of Choice, not in spite of our caring culture, but because of it.
We’re mindful of overtime and worker burnout, so we try to create consistent, predictable schedules that nurture positive staff, industry and client relationships. This gives our staff the flexibility to maintain a work-life balance, minimising their stress levels and enhancing their job satisfaction.
Our aim is to create a work environment where our employees return from work feeling inspired, safe and fulfilled. So they want to keep coming back.
And our experience shows hiring on cultural fit and values increases employee retention immensely.
While culture and values are the cornerstone of a successful hire, solid knowledge and the right skills are essential for best quality care.
At Coastlink, superior care for our clients it our utmost priority and we insist on minimum qualification requirements for all of our staff.
However, the enduring skilled worker shortage can make filling new positions challenging, and expensive. We know many care positions remain unfilled across the sector due to a lack of sufficiently skilled applicants.
For us, this highlights the need for a new approach to qualifications and educational pathways.
We’ve partnered with local vocational and educational training (VET) providers to meet the needs of our local care workforce and help address the skilled worker crisis across the industry.
Together we are working to ensure new care workers have the skills and knowledge to provide safe, quality care and support to the aged, and people living with a disability.
I’m incredibly proud to say that in 2017/18, we assisted 23 staff obtain a NSW TAFE Certificate IIII in Individual Support (Disability). These staff have become a valuable resource for Coastlink’s new direction.
We also sponsored a NSW TAFE program enabling eleven community members to gain a Certificate III Individual Support (Disability) qualification. These community members went on to complete 120 hours of work placement at Coastlink.
By streamlining training to employment pathways for these students and staff we’ve been able to upskill our existing workforce and attract quality new employees.
Developing identifiable career paths for our employees keeps them engaged and working toward the next step in their work life.
Engagement equals satisfaction. Satisfaction equals r
Retention equals continuity of care for our clients. And when there is continuity of care, are clients are more likely to thrive.
We’re working to implement better job pathways that allow for career progression because we understand our staff feel more valued when there is space for their growth and movement.
Our pathways are built on clear job descriptions and ongoing professional development.
And they foster leadership opportunities for the right people.
As a result, in 2017/18 we were able to attract 60 new staff looking for permanent roles and, importantly, retain our most valued key workers.
It won’t be easy to meet the growing demand of the aged and disability sectors in the years ahead. But at Coastlink, we are taking the steps to ensure the people in our care, and the staff who care for them, are supported, respected and encouraged to achieve their full potential.
Living Your Way.
Chief Executive Officer