Personal care attendant’s employed at residential facilities and community care are not registered in any way – so how can we ensure a quality workforce?

It appears that there is potential for things to change in the future, with the The Aged Care Guild having made an enquiry with the Senate Committee Inquiry.

The Aged Care Guild have specifically asked them to look into the Future of Australia’s Aged Care Sector Workforce to consider the merits of a registration system for aged care workers. This would include personal care assistants and assistants in nursing.

A registration system would help employers maintain standards and ensure the quality of the training sector and qualifications. It would alse create greater individual responsibility for professional development.

Cameron O’Reilly, CEO of the Aged Care Guild, told HelloCare that a registration is a step forward in improving the quality of care offered in aged care.

“I think in broad terms a registration system would help develop the professionalism and quality of the aged care workforce over time and provide benefits to the system by reducing duplication of a range of required employee checks” O’Reilly said.

A similar registration already exists for nurses with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Nurses are obligated to meet a minimum of 20 hours of continuing professional development. Registered nurses are required to complete a three-year bachelor degree at university and enrolled nurses complete an 18-month diploma – a stark difference to the minimum training requirements of a personal care attendants.

With no professional body, there is no where for personal care workers to be reported to if there is issues with the quality of service, such as being unsafe or being a risk to the people they care for.

It would be important that registration, or any similar such recommendations, not come as an additional cost to employees. Especially considering that this section of workers are some of the lowest paid in the country.

O’Reilly admitted that there the introduction of a registration has potential setbacks, however that it is necessary for the industry. 

“Obviously we don’t want a system that raises the cost of employment or one which deters people from the sector, but we also want to make sure that the standards of the workforce are maintained,” he said.

There has been talks in the past about a National Code of Conduct for Health Care Workers, which had been agreed upon by state ministers in 2015, as an alternative method for holding care workers to a national standard.

However, this code is only operational across three states and would be required to pass legislation in the other states before they can adopt it. This means that it could be years before this scheme becomes a national code.

The Senate’s workforce inquiry will issue its report on the 28th of April, with a review of aged care reforms to be completed by 1st of August 2017.

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