The 15 per cent pay increase is having a monumental impact across the aged care sector, writes Emily Gillett.
The 1 July fully-funded 15 per cent wage increase for nurses, personal care workers, home care staff and others in the aged care sector marked a truly significant milestone in the evolution of aged care in Australia.
At its core, the pay rise recognises the immeasurable value of aged care workers and the complex work they do day in, day out. This long-overdue acknowledgement most certainly breathed fresh life into what has historically been an underappreciated workforce, and though more changes are still necessary, it was inarguably a step in the right direction.
At The CareSide, we know firsthand how vital the aged care workforce is – without it, the entire aged care sector would cease to exist. Revisions were necessary, not only for the sake of aged care workers themselves, but for the industry as a whole.
Over recent years, the ripple effects of growing staff shortages have negatively impacted every part of aged care in Australia. Companies have struggled to retain nurses, home care and personal care workers but, even more critically, care recipients haven’t been able to access the care they need through home care packages or otherwise.
The government’s commitment of more than $11 billion to fund the wage increase isn’t just financial acknowledgement; it’s also a decision intended to strengthen the aged care workforce over both the short term and the long term. Fairer compensation not only provides current aged care workers with incentive to stay in the sector, it also helps attract new workers and curtail the impact of ongoing shortages.
That means two things: aged care workers are compensated for the value they bring every day, and care recipients receive the services they need – and the attention they deserve.
Indeed, care recipients stand to benefit as much as anyone from this historic wage increase. Well-paid nurses, home care workers, and personal care workers are more likely to keep their jobs now rather than move on in search of financial stability; that retention creates consistency and continuity of care, which undoubtedly serves the best interests of care recipients across Australia.
Not only that, but well-paid – and properly appreciated – caregivers are generally more motivated and, quite simply, happier, meaning the quality of care increases right along with the wages.
It’s a win-win for both sides and, ultimately, the government’s clear commitment to improving the aged care sector is a win for everyone. There is certainly more work to be done, but it’s important to recognise and celebrate the progress this wage increase represents.
Aged care workers are a fundamental part of our society, and their financial wellbeing – and by extension, the wellbeing of care recipients everywhere – should always be a priority.
Emily Gillett is co-founder and chief operating officer of The CareSide, a national home care service provider