“Professionalising the aged care workforce through changes to education, training, wages, labour conditions and career progression.”

The recently released 5-volume final report of the Aged Care Royal Commission is sweeping in its scope.

Education and training for those working in aged care is among the many things that need to be addressed and fixed.

What needs to be done on the education and training fronts?

The Royal Commissioners have made nearly 150 recommendations. Included amongst these are ones proposing:

“Professionalising the aged care workforce through changes to education, training, wages, labour conditions and career progression.”

Volume 1, the summary report mentions training 46 times. Education gets 23 mentions. The repost also has a set of associated recommendations. The education and training issues covered are broad: ranging from cultural awareness, dementia and palliative care, oral and dental health care through skin and wound care, and on to infection control and hygiene.

The Commissioners found that “Australia’s aged care system is understaffed and the workforce underpaid and undertrained” and that “inadequate staffing levels, skill mix and training are principal causes of substandard care in the current system.” Volunteers working in aged care need induction and ongoing training too.

They believe there is a lack of investment in staff training, and a need to professionalise the personal and aged care workforce too. They recommend that the Australian Government establish a national registration scheme for the personal care workforce with key features including a code of conduct, mandatory minimum qualification of a Certificate III, ongoing training requirements and minimum levels of English language proficiency.

They propose that:

“The Aged Care Workforce Planning Division should prepare an interim workforce strategy and planning framework for 2022–25 and a 10-year strategy for 2025–35. The Division should have access to an Aged Care Workforce Fund that can be used to support training, clinical placements, scholarships and other initiatives to respond to the workforce challenges.”

There is a whole section in the summary report devoted to education and training (see pages 127 and 128), which notes concern about the inconsistency of quality, delivery and duration of the courses leading to the Certificate III and they see work there for the Aged Care Services Industry Reference Committee to review courses at the Cert. III and IV levels. One Commissioner noted that the Cert. III had not been substantially updated despite significant recent changes in care requirements, and that there needed to be core competencies related to personal care and quality of life and wellbeing. The Commissioners believe that “aged care workers should have good quality, and easily accessible, ongoing training and professional development opportunities available to them” and so they recommended that the “Skills National Cabinet Reform Committee should fast-track the development of accredited, nationally recognised short courses, skills sets and micro-credentials for the aged care workforce.”

Some relevant recommendations

The Commissioners’ list of recommendations can be accessed here. Training gets 42 mentions! Notable ones include Recommendations 75 and 76, which are concerned with aged care workforce planning and the work of the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council. In addition, Recommendation 83 considers funding for the teaching of aged care programs. Recommendation 114 is relevant too, with its call for “immediate funding for education and training to improve the quality of care.”