The aged care workforce of the future inquiry

Care for older Indigenous Australians, along with education and recruitment for aged care workers should be key issues for the current Senate inquiry.


The Senate Committee is investigating the future of Australia's aged care workforce for which submissions close on Friday 4 March 2016.


A senior lecturer at Charles Sturt University's School of Nursing Midwifery and Indigenous Health, Dr Maree Bernoth's research and teaching is focused on improving the quality of aged care.


"A key focus of my submission [to the Inquiry] is the need to address the challenges of attracting and then retaining a skilled workforce for aged care in regional and rural areas," she said.


"We need people with the right skills knowledge and attitudes to work in aged care. Registered Nurses need to lead the clinical care team but they also need specialist skills and knowledge to provide quality care to frail older people.


"Education is at the heart of this issue and we need to show graduates that working in this sector can offer a rewarding career.


"Online learning makes it possible for universities and TAFE to work together with residential care facilities to provide further education for their staff."


Dr Bernoth said when planning for the future of our aged care workforce special attention needs to be given to catering for the needs of Indigenous peoples.


"We need to investigate how we provide appropriate aged care for older Indigenous peoples and in doing so we need to be encouraging Indigenous people to be participating in the aged care workforce," she said.


"We also need to provide them with education, support and career structure so they will teach us to be culturally competent in working with older Indigenous peoples.


"In teaching aged care, Indigenous stories are very powerful and it's something we've incorporated into the teaching program at Charles Sturt University by bringing elders into tutorials to speak with students."


Dr Bernoth also gave evidence to a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the need for Registered Nurses in residential aged care.


"The NSW government should fully adopt the inquiry's recommendations that Registered Nurses be on duty at all times in residential care facilities," she said.


"But there needs to be a nationally consistent approach, registration for all aged care workers with a statutory authority and background checks to ensure that vulnerable, elderly people are receiving the best possible care."


1 March 2016.