Home care workforce getting younger, more qualified

The home care workforce is getting younger and more qualified, according to a four yearly survey of the aged care sector.

The home care workforce is getting younger and more qualified, according to a four yearly survey of the aged care sector.

Richard Colbeck

The 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census, conducted by the federal health department, shows that one in three direct care workers employed under the HCP and CHSP are now aged under 40, compared to an average age of 52 in 2016.

The latest report also shows 63 per cent of care workers in the HCP hold a certificate III or higher in a relevant direct care field, and 71 per cent in CHSP.

In 2016, 51 per cent of community care workers had a Cert III in Aged Care and 27 per cent had a Cert lll in home and community care.

The survey shows that there are currently 80,340 people employed in the HCP workforce, of which 64,019 are direct care staff. The CHSP workforce consists of 76,096 people, including 59,029 direct care workers.

Over 60 per cent of HCP and CSP providers are also providing services under the NDIS or DVA.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, says the 2020 workforce data provides a benchmark for the government as it moves to reform the aged care sector in the wake of the royal commission.

“We are investing $652.1 million in growing and skilling the workforce,” Mr Colbeck said.  “Aged care workers are the engine room of the reforms and key to ensuring respect, care and dignity for senior Australians.”

Home care vacancies

In home care, the majority of direct care jobs were personal care workers (88 per cent) with the remainder evenly split between nurses and allied health.

Almost 3,300 worked in ancillary roles such as cooks, cleaners and gardeners and 13,002 worked in administerial and managerial roles.

Most of the workforce is female and only half of direct care staff were in permanent positions.

In the 12 months to November 2020, 34 per cent of direct care workers left their employment.

In December last year, HCPP providers reported 6,500 vacancies in direct care roles and half of all providers said they had at least one personal care worker position vacant.

Of the CHSP workforce, 80 per cent were direct care, 12 per cent were nurses and 8 per cent allied health.

Almost 2,900 worked as cooks, cleaners and gardeners and 14,132 worked in admin or management.

Almost 75 per cent of CHSP direct care workers were permanent, with the overwhelming majority (92 per cent) employed part time.

Impact of COVID

The workforce census also reflects the impact of covid-19 on the sector, with 33 per cent of HCP providers reporting a decrease in volunteers and 21 per cent reporting a drop in personal care workers during the pandemic.

The impact was worse for CHSP providers. Almost 60 per cent reported a decrease in volunteers and 28 per cent a drop in PCWs.

The report says Victoria was particularly hard hit by the pandemic, with lengthy periods of lockdown affecting capacity to deliver home care services and leading to loss of staff.

The census was conducted via an online survey sent to 834 HCP providers and 630 CHSP providers on December 7, 2020.

The report says the 2020 findings can’t be accurately compared to previous data because of differences in methodology.

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