Australia’s largest health and aged care union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has joined with Labor, other unions and industry stakeholders in continuing to stress the urgent need for an aged care workforce strategy.
The ANMF welcomes the news that Minister Sussan Ley is now Minister for Aged Care, adding the portfolio to the Ministry of Health and Sport and that Australia’s first Minister of Indigenous heritage, the Hon. Ken Wyattt, has been appointed as Assistant Health Minister, with a focus an aged care.
However, ANMF Acting Federal Secretary, Annie Butler said while the ANMF is pleased the Government now has a dedicated Minister for Aged Care, for the benefit of older Australians, the development of a sustainable workforce strategy for aged care remained crucial.
“It makes sense that aged care is back with health. Australians are living longer but not necessarily better. The increasing complexity of the conditions of ageing we see today requires sophisticated health management,” Ms Butler said today.
“The Residential aged care and Home Care 2013-14 report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in September, confirmed the increasing care needs of aged care residents with 83% of people in permanent care needing high-level care, compared to 76% in 2008, and 52% of all people in permanent care with dementia.
“Minister Ley and Assistant Minister Wyatt must recognise that these needs demand a suitably skilled and qualified workforce. Currently, workforce issues continue to compromise the amount of quality care that can be provided to the elderly, whether they be in nursing homes or home settings.
“We agree with Minister Ley that keeping Australians healthier and happier for longer by dedicating more effort and resources into primary care and prevention is the right move but we were not encouraged by her statement yesterday that ‘limited dollars’ can provide ‘the best possible system’ for aged care.
“We need much more investment in primary health care than we have currently and then we need time to reap the benefits. But we need better care for our elderly right now, this means providing proper investment in aged care, most critically proper staffing.
“That’s why the development of a sustainable workforce strategy, including wages and training, must be Minister Ley’s number one priority in aged care.
“It’s crucial that Minister Ley and Assistant Minister Wyatt genuinely consult with the ANMF and other bodies to find solutions to the current imbalance in the aged care workforce, for the sake of older Australians and their families.”