Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA MAR-APL 2018 Contents CARERS AUSTRALIA says its new survey of organisations that help carers access
respite clearly shows that “demand for residential respite care is not being met.”
As well as mandated provision of respite and improved government
subsidies to residential aged care providers, the peak body called for greater
availability of other forms of respite, such as cottage style accommodation
for overnight and weekend breaks.
There is an estimated 2.7 million informal carers in Australia, 400,000
of whom provide care for someone aged over 65 and 300,000 support
someone living with dementia.
Carers Australia says it undertook the sur vey because it was increasingly
receiving reports of difficulties finding respite care, particularly from ser vices
that offer respite advice to carers.
Its sur vey of 112 services, from metropolitan and regional and remote
areas, found most agencies reported high or ver y high demand for
emergency respite (74 per cent) and planned residential respite (88 per cent).
“Only 35 per cent of respondents were able to offer respite care most of
the time, with a further 46 per cent able to offer respite care some of the
time,” the sur vey found.
The types of care that were rated most difficult to access were weekend respite
(72 per cent), emergency respite (68 per cent) and planned respite (66 per cent).
Common suggestions for improving respite were having dedicated respite
beds, being able to access respite without an ACAT assessment and a central
system for checking availability and making bookings.
Aged and Community Services Australia said the recommendations were
“common-sense steps” that could be implemented to alleviate current pressures.
Experts have previously flagged the high rates of depression and stress
among carers and the need to provide better supports. n
NEWS n TALKING POINTS n WORLD WATCH
Fix funding: providers
Calls to adopt Tune’s recommendations.
WHILE URGING government to implement measures proposed in last year’s
review, providers have also urged Canberra to ignore the recommendations
outlined in the Rosewarne report into the sector’s funding tool.
In its December mid-year budget update the government flagged it
would respond to last year’s review of aged care by David Tune in the
2018-19 Budget to be handed down in May.
Provider peaks including the Aged Care Guild, Leading Age Ser vices
Australia, Aged and Community Ser vices Australia and Catholic Health
Australia again called for a sustainable funding plan for residential care, with
emphasis on Tune’s proposals to increase so-called user contributions from
seniors with financial means.
All the peaks support the recommendations to allow providers to charge
a higher daily fee to wealthier seniors, although CHA argued the higher fee
should still be capped.
Even though the government has already ruled out Tune’s recommendations
to include the full value of an older person’s house in residential care means-
testing and to abolish annual and lifetime caps on fees across residential and
home care, the guild, LASA and ACSA called for a review of existing measures.
The guild also called for a government response to the Aged Care
Roadmap, which was released in April 2016, along with a commitment
it won’t introduce “any specific or realised reductions in aged care
expenditure” in the budget.
LASA sought a reversal of indexation pauses applied from 2017-18 and
the reinstatement of the Payroll Tax Supplement. It also asked government
to reject the measures proposed by Richard Rosewarne in the government-
commissioned review of ACFI.
He proposed a revised tool with fewer and simpler questions, a new
therapy program for pain management and external assessment options.
ACSA called for no changes to ACFI without consultation and pilots
“to ensure the impacts on quality of care for residents and provider
sustainability are understood.” n
Rewards, career paths
useful for staff retention.
RECOGNITION OF staff, training and
moves upwards and sideways are all useful
for attracting and retaining staff, according
to new research.
A team of researchers from Curtin
University, University of Technology
Sydney and RMIT studied the approaches
of a major Western Australian provider to
understand the working conditions that
engage and retain personal care workers.
Training and development was a
cornerstone, with a “comprehensive”
orientation for new staff as well as informal
feedback from supervisors under a “buddy
system”. An annual training calendar
covered clinical and workplace topics,
while care workers can be supported to
progress to nurse and management roles.
Recognition was another key element
of the provider’s approach, which included
some monetary rewards, such as for acting
in super visor y roles and mentoring.
In-kind rewards included public
recognition through employee awards and
the promotion of social gatherings and
In addition, a mix of “horizontal
and vertical pathways” for personal care
workers was seen as important. Vertical
options included care workers stepping
into positions such as acting super visors
and mentors, and being supported to up-
skill to nurse and management positions.
Horizontal moves included taking
on more job functions, becoming an
expert in a key area or getting involved in
management tasks such as roster planning.
Based on the observations the research
team suggested aged care providers
could adopt skills-based job descriptions
to better outline duties; recognise and
reward care workers; include work
sampling in the hiring phase; create
more permanent, full-time positions; and
provide greater access to career paths and
When asked about the recruitment and
retention challenges in aged care more
generally, the managers referred to the need
for better promotion of the careers available
and to tackle negative perceptions about
aged care work.
Their study comes as the Federal
Government’s aged care workforce taskforce
examines options to boost supply of new
workers to the sector. The committee is due
to report to government by June. n
Carers flag respite shortage
Push to require providers to offer respite.
8 | MARCH – APRIL 2018
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