Questions raised over aged care workforce programmes: Stocktake

More-than-half of all taxpayer-funded aged care workforce programmes have never had their performance reviewed or evaluated, a new stocktake has found.

Page last updated: 11 December 2015

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Joint Media Release


The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Health
Minister for Aged Care
Minister for Sport

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP
Assistant Minister for Health


11 December 2015

More-than-half of all taxpayer-funded aged care workforce programmes have never had their performance reviewed or evaluated, leading to questions as to whether they are achieving “significant and lasting impact on aged care workforce activities”, a new stocktake has found.

Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley and Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt today released the Stocktake and Analysis of Commonwealth-funded Aged Care Workforce Activities report.

Ms Ley said the stocktake had been a positive exercise in helping better inform Government about how to ensure “every dollar spent is a dollar invested in improving quality care for older people and their carers, not simply unproductive programmes and bureaucracy”.

“A key objective of the Stocktake was to highlight areas of duplication or gaps in the Government’s approach and identify synergies between the aged care, disability and health workforces,” Ms Ley said.

“This report raises questions about inefficiencies and duplication in the system, particularly in more-costly programmes, as well as a clear lack of checks and balances in place to ensure programmes are actually delivering what they promise.

“It also raises the prospect that the programmes and resources needed to help fill skill gaps and shortages are already available, there just needs to be better communication around how to access them.

“We want to ensure the $220m over the 4 years from 2015/2016 that taxpayers are investing in improving workforce development in the aged care sector is delivering better quality care for older Australians and this stocktake is an important step towards achieving that.”

The stocktake was undertaken as part of the Government’s 2014 Budget commitment to ensure aged care workforce programmes were delivering value for money following the return of $1.5 billion back to providers’ basic subsidy.

Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt said workforce development was something constantly raised with him by aged-care providers.

“There’s broad recognition that quality workforce training and development is essential in the aged care sector,” Mr Wyatt said.

“But there’s also acknowledgement in the sector the current funding system is clunky and therefore not always supporting the best outcomes for older Australians.

“The Commonwealth provides 65 per cent of all aged care funding in Australia and this is something we want to get right for current and future generations.”

An Aged Care Workforce Advisory Group – a sub-group of the Aged Care Sector Committee – was established to provide advice on the Stocktake. Minister Ley noted the Stocktake found 54 Australian Government funded activities were identified, which supported the aged care workforce between 2011-12 and 2013-14.

Workforce training and education is a shared responsibility between the government and industry, as providers have obligations under the Aged Care Act 1997 to ensure there are adequate numbers of appropriately skilled staff to meet the individual care needs of residents.

The Stocktake acknowledged that the industry is also supported by mainstream cross-sector activities such as through the Vocational Education and Training sector. The Stocktake can be found here.

Key Quotes
    • “A key objective of the Stocktake was to highlight areas of duplication or gaps in the Government’s approach and identify synergies between the aged care, disability and health workforces.”
    • “Based on the information gathered or available through the Stocktake and the large number of individual programmes and activities included, it is difficult to definitively determine which of these programmes have achieved significant and lasting impact on aged care workforce activities.”
    • “Whilst almost 50% of activities have or are undergoing some form of review or evaluation, these have tended to be predominantly programmatic reviews or evaluations focusing on outcomes achieved as opposed to policy evaluation focusing on overall program effectiveness.”
    • “Programme objectives identified through the Stocktake do appear to have some duplication at a thematic level (i.e. workforce upskilling or recruitment).”
    • “Through consultations, inefficiencies described largely referred to programme or funding administration and processes.”
    • “This included burdensome reporting requirements and inflexible timing and eligibility criteria. In addition comment was made on the ineffective collection, management and utilisation of workforce activity, training, education, recruitment and retention data.”
    • “There were also comments in regard to whether some of the more costly programmes were meeting their intended aims.”
    • “Training for most if not all perceived skills gaps presented in this section are reported to be currently available through various sources.”
    • “It is considered that there is a plethora of guidelines, best practice resources and other research that can be applied to workforce management at present but which is not effectively disseminated.”
    • “There is concern that poor dissemination and information sharing is “wasteful” and does not enable initiatives to be adopted and expanded on.”
ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Minister Ley: Stephen Block 0428 213 264
Minister Wyatt: Chloe Lawler 0447 680 444

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