Australia is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 aged-care workers within the next decade unless urgent action is taken, a new report has found.
The report by CEDA, found the shortage will balloon to over 400,000 workers by 2050 unless drastic action is taken now.
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CEDA chief economist Jarrod Ball said Australia has failed to prepare for the challenge, despite multiple inquiries showcasing the need for more help in the sector.
“We will need at least 17,000 more direct aged-care workers each year in the next decade just to meet basic standards of care,” Ball said.
“These projections are based on conservative assumptions, and the situation may prove to be even more dire than this.”
Direct-care workers include personal-care assistants, nurses and allied-health staff.
Why do we need more aged care workers?
By 2031, nearly 20 per cent of the population is expected to be aged over 65, so demand for care will only keep growing.
“This requires a massive commitment from the Federal Government, the kind we haven’t seen to date,” Ball said.
“We have not come anywhere near the growth in workers we need to meet demand. The Federal Government must commit to increasing funding for the sector to meet the workforce challenge.”
Australia’s aged-care system is already currently understaffed, leading to care that is below world standards.
“Investing in workers to provide better care for more people must be a national priority - the shortage of workers lies at the heart of the problems in the sector,” Ball said.
Australia spends around the OECD average on aged care, but well below the average of countries known for high-quality care such as the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries and Japan.
The CEDA report found that without building the workforce, we will be unable to provide the services older Australians deserve and expect.
The CEDA report made a number of recommendations including boosting wages and working conditions, providing more training and bringing in more migrant workers to fill the gaps.