In a recently released research report, Deloitte Access Economics has painted a concerning picture of the future of informal care in Australia. The study projects that in the next decade, the demand for informal care will substantially outstrip its supply, posing a critical challenge for the nation’s aging population. The report highlights key findings from the 2016 Census and Survey, shedding light on the current state of the aged care workforce and the impending gaps that need urgent attention.
Current Workforce Landscape:
According to the 2016 Census and Survey data, there are over 366,000 workers in the aged care sector, with more than 240,300 in direct care roles. Personal care attendants make up a significant portion, attributing to 70 percent of direct residential workers, followed by registered nurses at 15 percent and enrolled nurses at 10 percent. The report indicates that the residential aged care workforce has grown by approximately 50 percent since 2003.
Projected Growth and Concerns:
Despite the growth, the Productivity Commission estimates that by 2050, the aged care workforce will need to have expanded to around 980,000 workers to meet the escalating demand. This projection underscores the gravity of the situation, emphasizing the need for strategic planning and decisive action. The challenges ahead are not merely quantitative; they also encompass the quality and skills required in the aged care sector.
Quotes from Experts:
The report is supported by Patricia Sparrow, Chief Executive of Aged and Community Services Australia, who underscores the urgency of increasing the demand across the aged care sector. Sparrow emphasizes, "As our population ages, the demand for quality aged care services will only intensify. It is crucial that we act now to ensure the workforce is adequately equipped to meet the evolving needs of our aging population."
Implications for Informal Care:
The growing gap between supply and demand in the aged care workforce has significant implications for informal care. Family members, friends, and volunteers who provide informal care play a vital role in supporting the elderly, but their capacity to do so may be stretched thin. As the demand for formal care services rises, the burden on informal caregivers could increase, potentially affecting the quality and sustainability of care provided at home.
Deloitte's report calls for urgent attention from policymakers, urging them to consider comprehensive strategies to address the impending crisis in informal care. This includes investing in workforce training and development, exploring innovative care models, and fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure a resilient and responsive aged care system.
The Deloitte Access Economics report serves as a wake-up call for Australia, signaling the urgent need to address the growing disparity between the demand for informal care and its supply. With the aging population set to increase in the coming years, strategic investments and policy interventions are crucial to ensure that the nation is well-prepared to meet the evolving needs of its seniors. It is a call to action for stakeholders across the aged care sector to work collaboratively in shaping a sustainable and high-quality care environment for the elderly.
In the face of an aging population and the imminent challenges highlighted by the recent Deloitte Access Economics report, National Care Australia (NCA) takes a proactive stance by emphasising the importance of training personal care workers in the aged care and community services sector. NCA believes that investing in education and development for caregivers is not only key to elevating the quality of care provided but also essential for ensuring compliance with evolving industry standards.