Investigators: Kostas Mavromaras; Julie Ratcliffe; Stephane Mahuteau; Ann Harrington;  Lily Xiao; Linda Isherwood

Commences: 2016
Funding body: Australian Research Council, Linkage grant

Synopsis

The aged care sector in Australia is facing several current challenges with regard to increased demand for residential care placements and Home Care Packages, flexible delivery of these services, ensuring high-quality care and the expansion of consumer directed care (CDC). With the ageing of the population, the aged care sector needs to ensure a significant expansion of its workforce at a time when the labour market as a whole will be tightening. The sector is therefore entering a critical phase in its national workforce development. However, there is currently little empirical evidence as to how the aged care sector and its workforce can expand and change to meet these challenges.

Professor Kostas Mavromaras will lead a multidisciplinary Flinders University team comprising Professor Julie Ratcliffe, Dr Stephane Mahuteau, Associate Professor Ann Harrington, Associate Professor Lily Xiao and Dr Linda Isherwood to explore these issues. Addressing the Australian Government’s Strategic Research Priority of ‘Promoting population health and wellbeing’, the study will provide the first in-depth exploration to date of supply-side issues in the aged care workforce in Australia. This project aims to provide new evidence on how to attract, retain and up-skill workers as the aged care sector strives to achieve a sustainable and skilled workforce fit for the future needs of older Australians.

To support the study, strategic research partnerships have been established with three partner organisations Eldercare, James Brown Memorial Trust and Life Care who will play an instrumental role in the study design and implementation, and in the translation of research results into practice.

Using a mixed methods design, this project will combine secondary analysis of representative national datasets, with the collection and analysis of qualitative data. Additionally a novel and innovative use of discrete choice experiment (DCE) methodology will be utilised to elicit the attitudes and preferences of aged care workers regarding future employment in the sector.

The evidence and recommendations from the project will be of great value to national policy makers and aged care service providers for future workforce planning and development. The anticipated outcomes from this study will include an understanding of current trends, projections and employment preferences in the aged care workforce, and the development of well-defined strategies to improve recruitment and retention in the industry, transitions between aged care sectors, worker satisfaction, and upskilling of employees. This will lead to increased efficiency and productivity improvements in the delivery of quality aged care services, increased worker and client satisfaction, reduced staff shortages and turnover and a cost reduction relating to the hiring and training of new staff.