Australians aged 70+ are in the high-risk category for Coronavirus. As the Health and Community Services sector scrambles to treat patients and protect our nation’s most vulnerable people, it’s clear the aged care industry needs more carers.
Why aged care workers are in demand
Australia has almost 250,000 aged carers included nurses and allied health professionals (like personal carers or community service workers). Because older people face a much higher health risk from the Coronavirus, their interactions with the outside world need to be strictly controlled and reduced wherever possible.
This is putting a strain on aged care for 2 reasons:
- Tighter procedures and stricter regulation make it harder to provide the same standards of care
- Carers are refusing to work because they are worried about their own health, or the health of elderly people
Where’s the skills shortage?
Primary carers are among the most understaffed at the moment. With more people taking leave to quarantine or because of health concerns, and others (until recently) limited to how many hours they could work, there just aren’t enough qualified people.
It’s not a new problem in the Health and Community Services sector. In fact nearly 2 out of 3 aged care homes were understaffed before Coronavirus hit.
What’s the solution?
The Health and Community Services sector is facing an unprecedented situation. Continuity of care has never been more important – but we shouldn’t be risking anyone’s health to provide it.
Overseas worker restrictions
After calls to loosen restrictions for overseas workers in aged care, the Government came through by lifting the 20 hour per week cap for overseas student nurses. Now around 20,000 overseas student nurses working in aged care will be able to work full time to fill the critical shortage.
Graduate nursing staff
The Government also announced they were “looking at the regulatory arrangements around general practice and the use of graduates and students in circumstances where additional capacity is required.”
Translation: student nurses and recent graduates might also be able to work in aged care.
This would likely be in an allied health capacity until they are registered nurses, but it would still go a long way to plugging the gap.
Aged care allied health professionals are in demand, now more than ever. If you’ve ever thought about a career in Health and Community Services, there has never been a better time to get qualified so you can help people stay healthy and live a better quality of life.