The Department of Health should review the impact of consumer directed care on pay and working conditions in home care and on particular groups such as remote seniors and those with special needs, says a Senate inquiry.
The inquiry, which handed down its final report on Tuesday night, found evidence of the use of zero hour contracts, where workers are given no guaranteed weekly hours.
The Senate’s community affairs committee said these flexible contracts could have significant impacts for both workers and quality of care, and the impact of CDC on working conditions and job security should be further investigated.
The CDC model was also proving to be problematic for remote locations and added to concerns about the ongoing viability of services in these areas, the committee said.
The inquiry was told that a smaller, more dispersed client base and additional costs of delivering services in remote areas had not been factored in to CDC modelling.
The inquiry also heard concerns CDC was not culturally appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, due to its individualistic nature.
The report recommended the government take immediate action to review opportunities for remote service providers to access block funding.
The inquiry, which was initiated in December 2015, also recommended renewed efforts to tackle low pay in the sector and the development of industry-wide career structures for aged care workers.
Noting longstanding concerns about the quality of VET courses for aged care workers, the committee recommended the new aged care workforce taskforce work with the Australian Skills Quality Authority “to establish nationally consistent minimum standards for training and accreditation.”
A specific strategy to support access to aged care training for regional and remote aged care workers should also be developed, the committee said.
The federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt welcomed the report’s release and said the detailed findings will help inform the development of an industry-led workforce strategy. He said the new taskforce was due to be established next month.
Mr Wyatt said the government was considering the report’s findings and would provide a response to the senate committee “in due course.”
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