Workforce management came under scrutiny in the Senate’s report into the future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce, released on the 20th of June, 2017.
The Senates recommendations have raised questions regarding the compliance to oversee the management of such a diverse workforce.
The media has provided intense scrutiny into the education, incentives and remuneration of the aged care workforce. Also of particular concern to the senate committee was the management of the workforce, with the following relevant recommendations:
- Recommendation 4
25 The committee recommends that, as part of the aged care workforce strategy, the aged care workforce strategy taskforce be required to include:… “mechanisms to rapidly address staff shortages and other factors impacting on the workloads and health and safety of aged care sector workers, with particular reference to the needs of regional and remote workers including provision of appropriate accommodation;” and
- Recommendation 6
31 The committee recommends that the aged care workforce strategy include consideration of the role of informal carers and volunteers in the aged care sector, with particular focus on the impacts of both the introduction of consumer directed care and the projected ageing and reduction in these groups.
- Recommendation 7
34 The committee recommends that the national aged care workforce strategy includes consideration of the role of medical and allied health professionals in aged care and addresses care and skill shortages through better use of available medical and allied health resources.
- Recommendation 8
41 The committee recommends that the government examine the introduction of a minimum nursing requirement for aged care facilities in recognition that an increasing majority of people entering residential aged care have complex and greater needs now than the proportions entering aged care in the past, and that this trend will continue.
Why is this significant?
An aged care workforce has diverse skills, which can be difficult to manage. Add to this, volunteers, carers and patients with different needs, levels of mobility and disability and medical requirements and you have a very complex scheduling problem. Any inefficiency of such a diverse workforce will add to the cost. Finally, the requirement of compliance, eg maintaining a team with a required (or enforced) skills profiles and ratios, behoves such a system to have the ability to track and create alerts – a workforce management “super-duper” interface.
Leading Aged Services Australia CEO, Sean Rooney cited the 2011 Productivity Commission Report, Caring for Older Australians, which highlighted ‘superficial attractions’ to mandatory staffing to care recipient ratios was a ‘blunt instrument’ that is unlikely to be an efficient way to improve care’. Like a domino, for a margins-based industry, it will have knock-on effects on quality and cost of care, and ultimately impact profitability.
What can be done?
Scheduling and correct coordination of the aged care workforce is of top priority.
Aged care providers should look for a system that allows proactive profiling and management of this style of workforce, across multiple locations and teams of healthcare issues. The autonomy for some elements can be distributed (eg patients request a visit from a particular type of provider, if part of their care package), whilst others can be centrally controlled (eg accreditation of the home-care staff).
It is very likely, given the focus on the complexity of chronic disease management, and the feedback from key organisations, that aged care teams will be physician led. The AMA continues to advocate to secure medical and nursing care for older Australians, particularly as the population ages.
As such, a detailed understanding of each worker’s skill set, documentation of past client contact, as well as a system to monitor and manage the location of the patient.
Finally, a rules based self-scheduling engine, accommodating volunteers, carers, staff and medical professionals, will allow aged care organisations to see whether they have all roles, functions and locations covered – and manage for the times when they are not.
- Anticipate the need to manage your aged care staff and workforce closely, with the ability to match the needs of the patients with the ability and past history of the staff, volunteer or medical team member
- Begin to build a profile of your people’s skills sets, with a tool like Jobs for Periop Partners
- Begin to automate management tasks and scheduling of locations and jobs: Mobiliyo can assist in this process
- Ask us how MedicRooms.com can be used as an internal site to schedule care in your patients’ residences, or within a residential village.
- A super-user platform that oversees all aspects of workforce management.
Want to find out how Jobs, Mobiliyo, MedicRooms and the Periop Partners platform can help you manage your aged care workforce? Call us on 1300 799 438 and ask to speak to one of our consultants.