How much do you have to spend to attract aged care staff to the regions?

A prominent aged care provider is trying to recruit workers by offering to pay for their study and work expenses in the Goldfields. 

Key points:Amana Living hopes to attract workers by covering costs for trainees in the GoldfieldsIt comes as Kalgoorlie hosts a national sustainable growth conference with worker shortages high on the agendaA local elderly resident is concerned worker shortages could lead to compromises in patient care

The move highlights the huge demand for workers in the region and the sector, just as Kalgoorlie-Boulder hosts the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) conference.

SEGRA convener Kate Charters said there were broad issues surrounding the attraction and retention of staff across regional Australia.

"Amenity is some of it, as well as opportunity and access to professional development," she said.

A smiling, dark haired woman wearing spectacles.
Kate Charters organises the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia conference.(Supplied: SEGRA)

The regional development expert said she was very supportive of university and learning hubs operating in regional areas, as they helped to bring people into those communities. 

This year the Human Services Skills Organisation estimated Australia needed one million health and community care workers by 2050.

Instead of traditional educational hubs for aged care trainees, service provider Amana Living is incentivising future workers by paying for online focused training in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Amana Living does not have a limit on the number of spots it is offering.

Chief operating officer Jenny Williams said the worker shortage in aged care was enormous.

"Particularly for us in the Goldfields, we are very, very keen to welcome new staff," Ms Williams said.

A couple dancing
For many senior Australians, staying at home as long as possible is the goal. (ABC News: Jerry Rickard)

She said it was hard to compete with other health sectors for the same pool of workers.

Adding to the short supply of staff in the sector was an issue faced by industries across WA — locked borders preventing migrant workers from entering the state to fill positions.

Amana Living's recruitment scheme takes advantage of the government's Lower Fees, Local Skills subsidy program which reduces selected course fees by up to 72 per cent.

a woman with long, curly, dark hair, smiling
Amana Living's Jenny Williams hopes financial incentives will encourage more aged-care workers to move to the  Goldfields.(Supplied: Amana Living)

A Certificate III in aged care from the Amana Living Training Institute is $826, according to its website.

There are no criteria for these trainees, with Amana Living stating it preferences candidates who are "naturally kind and want to serve older Goldfields residents".

"We will bring the training and the employment so they can work and study and be paid for all of that," Ms Williams said.

Will worker shortages compromise quality?

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's final report released 148 recommendations in March this year, with a key takeaway being workforce capability.

It called for better wages and a minimum staff time with residents. 

An elderley woman with glasses standing outside with trees behind her
Lilian Walters is worried worker shortages in aged care could lead to compromises in quality.(ABC Goldfields: Elsa Silberstein)

Lilian Walters is an elderly resident and active member of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community.

She's worried worker shortages may compromise the quality of care.

"Bringing in unqualified people is a real concern," she said.

"There are so many things that can go wrong [in aged care] and people who haven't worked in the industry can miss so much."

An Amana Living sign sits in the foreground of the photo, with cars in the background.
Amana Living is hoping to bring more people to the Goldfields with financial incentives. (ABC News: Sean Tarek Goodwin)

Ms Walters also brought up the soft skills important in dealing with the elderly.

"A lot of people are well meaning but extremely patronising of older people," she said.

Louise Forster, the head of aged care advocacy body Advocare, said she welcomed initiatives that would increase the capacity of the workforce, especially in regional WA.

"We also point out the need for quality of training of those new to the sector," Ms Forster said.

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"This is vitally important for the wellbeing of older Western Australians receiving aged care."

Posted 7h ago7 hours agoTue 16 Nov 2021 at 1:14am, updated 7h ago7 hours agoTue 16 Nov 2021 at 1:14amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp


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