Aged care workforce planning and support programs

This webinar provided information on aged care workforce planning and support programs available to assist providers. It included information on the Business and Workforce Advisory Service and the Remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Service Development Assistance Panel.

Health sector
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Webinar recording



Department of Health and Aged Care – Aged Care Workforce Planning and Support Programs

Thursday 21 March 2024

Presented by:

Stephanie Kaiser – Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Workforce Branch 


Megan Lancaster – Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Market Adjustment Branch

Colby O’Brien – Strategy and Transactions Ernst & Young

Cassandra Gandolfo – Director, People Consulting, Ernst & Young

[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Aged Care Workforce Planning and Support Programs’, ‘With presentations from:’, ‘Stephanie Kaiser, Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Workforce Branch’, ‘Megan Lancaster, Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Market Adjustment Branch’, ‘Colby O’Brien, Partner, Strategy and Transactions, EY’]

[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]

Stephanie Kaiser:

Good afternoon everyone and thank you all for attending today’s webinar on Aged Care Workforce Planning and Support Programs. My name is Stephanie Kaiser and I am the Assistant Secretary of the Aged Care Workforce Branch at the Department of Health and Aged Care.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the lands on which we are virtually meeting today. I’m based in Canberra on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. I acknowledge and pay respects to their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. I’d also like to extend the acknowledgment and respect to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who are here with us today. And thank you again for your time today.

Today’s webinar will be supported by Megan Lancaster, the Assistant Secretary for the Aged Care Market and Adjustment Branch and by colleagues from Ernst & Young who are delivering the Aged Care Business and Workforce Advisory Services on behalf of the Department. There will be a Q&A session at the end of the webinar. You will see on the right of the screen there’s a Slido box and you may use that to put any questions that you would like to be answered and we’ll look at those at the end. I’ll also note that any questions submitted during the registration process have also been considered for the Q&A session.

Today’s session will also be recorded and published on our website and the webinar slides are already available on our website.

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Part 1’, ‘The aged care workforce’]

So I’d first like to talk a little bit about the aged care workforce. So I think everyone who’s joined this webinar today would agree that getting workforce right is key to being able to achieve the important objectives of aged care reform. We need to make sure we have the policies right to grow and skill the aged care workforce because they’re fundamental to ensuring older people are able to access quality care when and where they need it. 

I want to start by giving you a quick overview of the care and support sector. This is a significant and important industry made up of disability support, aged care, veterans’ care and early childhood education and care. It’s also one of the fastest growing industries in Australia driven by an ageing population, a transition from informal to formal care and increases in expectations of Government.

The most recent intergenerational report projected the share of the population aged over 65 will increase to nearly 23% as the baby boomer generation ages over the next 40 years. To meet this significant growth the aged and disabled care workforce grew by 72% between 2016 and 2021 and it will continue to grow at a significant rate. Investing in this important sector brings economic benefits, labour force participation and equality. The aged care sector is one of the largest care and support sectors and the aged care workforce is fundamental to our aged care reform. The Government has a number of initiatives in place to build, train and support the aged care workforce. Funding better and fairer wages to align with complex work required, creating opportunities for new workers to join the sector, building the skills of current workers and supporting providers to develop workforce management and culture to prioritise valued and skilled workers. 

So some of the initiatives that are in place to support this action include investing $11.3 billion to fund the Fair Work Commission’s interim decision for a 15% pay increase for many aged care workers. And people will note that there has been a further decision by the Fair Work Commission last Friday for more wage increases for aged care workers. Enhancing training and career pathway opportunities for workers through aged care scholarships, the Aged Care Transition to Practice Program, the Home Care Workforce Support Program and the Aged Care Nursing Clinical Placements Program. And supporting improved knowledge and skills through funding over 82,400 care sector course enrolments in 2023 through fee free TAFE as well as relaunching the Aged Care Workforce Advisory Service to support providers in implementing more effective workforce planning and management approaches. This will be a significant focus of today’s webinar.

We’ve been working closely with our aged care workforce committee to look at the areas we need to focus on to build the aged care workforce that we need into the future. This slide shows some of the areas we need to focus on at a high level. This includes developing new workers coming into the sector, providing them with more training and support, mentorship and career pathways and importantly ensuring aged care workers feel valued and get the recognition they deserve through better pay and conditions.

These are things that encourage people to stay and set aged care apart from other sectors. We also need to ensure that providers have the skills and information they need to plan their workforce needs and that they have the support and resources to put these plans into action.

I acknowledge that there are a range of workforce challenges that providers may be facing including increasing service demands to meet the needs of an ageing population. More complex service delivery as people live longer with more chronic and complex conditions requiring a larger workforce with more specialised skills, competition between health, aged care and disability support providers, the distribution of the workforce in thin markets as well as a lack of accommodation and infrastructure in these regions and burnout and fatigue from the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing reform.

Over the last few years the Home Care Workforce Support Program has played an important role in supporting aged care providers to attract, train and retain new and existing workers into the aged care sector. This program was funded by the Government and implemented by six organisations and consortia with support activities delivered in all jurisdictions in Australia. As at the end of last month the program has supported over 10,400 workers to enter and commence a career in the aged care sector.

Late last year the Department received an evaluation report for the program. The report had a primary focus on the delivery of the program but contained a range of more general findings on the sector that I wanted to share.

There is a need to enhance the skills and capacity of the sector in relation to HR processes. This includes approaches and strategies in relation to attraction, recruitment, screening, interviewing and workforce onboarding. High numbers of prospective workers registered an interest in working in the aged care sector, almost 50,000 people over the life of the program, but there was a low conversion to employment. Some of the reasons why are less responsive onboarding processes, workers not meeting provider or consumer needs.

Agile and innovative approaches to attraction and retention are particularly important during low unemployment labour market conditions such as right now. Providers with stronger relationships with local industry stakeholders including training and skills providers are able to more quickly and effectively convert potential candidates to workers. Some of these findings build on some of the sector insights from the Department’s former Aged Care Workforce Advisory Service. That service ran from October 2021 to June 2023 and found that many of the providers that participated in the program lacked an HR strategy or people plan, did not have collaborative or effective relationships with local health and aged care or other care and support providers, schools or training and employment providers in the community, did not have access to digital solutions which could support HR functions and create efficiencies, and relied on traditional HR practices and had not had the opportunity to re-engage with their workforce and re-explore options to improve the employee experience.

There are a range of diverse opportunities to support building a skilled and valued aged care workforce including through providing workers with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and experience to boost our aged care leadership capability, ensuring there are opportunities for workers to grow their careers in aged care with avenues for workers to undertake education and training to build their skills, knowledge and confidence in delivering safe and high quality care, enhancing workplace culture where the diversity of the workforce is valued and respected, where conditions in the sector are positive and support the safety and wellbeing of workers, and where workers are empowered to support innovation and implement new evidence-based approaches.

The Department has recently funded free, independent and confidential aged care business and workforce advisory services that can support residential and home care providers to explore tailored opportunities to support building a skilled and valued aged care workforce. Ernst & Young are funded to deliver the services which deliver practical advice, resources and links to available programs that can be accessed to support critical workforce and business challenges.

I’d like to encourage you to visit our website. We have a special page just dedicated to aged care workforce and all the opportunities that there are to help you.

I’d now like to welcome Colby O’Brien to take us through the Aged Care Business and Workforce Advisory Services in a little bit more detail. Just a reminder that there will be time for questions at the end of the session. Thanks Colby.

Colby O’Brien:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Part 2’, ‘Aged care Business and Workforce Advisory Services’, ‘Colby O’Brien’, ‘Partner, Strategy and Transactions’, ‘EY’]

Thanks Steph. Good afternoon all. So Colby O’Brien is my name. I’m a partner at EY in our Strategy Business based here in sunny Canberra. So I lead the EY delivery team with respect to the Aged Care Business Workforce Advisory Service and ultimately hold the responsibility and the accountability for the successful delivery of our advice. We take a lot of pride in the work that we do in the care sector and we do acknowledge the importance of this program to provide support to providers where you need it most.

I’m joined on the webinar by Kosta Pappas who will be leading the Business Advisory Service of this program and Cass Gandolfo who will lead the Workforce Advisory side of the program. And together with Cass and Kosta our entire team are really passionate about aged care and we’ve been working closely with the Department to establish this program and with approved providers to deliver the financial and workforce advice.

Over the next ten minutes or so I’ll take you through an overview of the service, how we can assist providers and what providers can expect from the service including important information on how to apply. As Steph said we then have some time for Q&A at the end so feel free to put your questions into Slido as well.

So the Aged Care Business and Workforce Advisory Service as Steph mentioned is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care and the overall objective really is strengthening the sector. And as you now know EY’s been engaged to deliver these services and we’re very excited to do so. Applications are open to approved residential aged care and in‑home care providers. Eligible providers will have access to free, independent and confidential advice in relation to specific business and workforce matters that are relevant to each provider. Approved residential and in-home care providers are eligible to apply. Subject to application volumes there may be some prioritisation that’s required based on factors including location and service type, specialisation and any previous support that has been provided by the Department.

In our experience having worked with a number of aged care providers over the years providers are looking for practical advice that can be realistically implemented on pressing business and workforce concerns and that is absolutely in our vision with respect to this program. The services are designed to assist providers better understand the challenges and opportunities that affect your resourcing, your viability, strategy and profitability. The program’s been designed to provide advice in the most appropriate and effective way. And this may be in the form of written reports or verbal advice, interactive workshops, deep dives with the boards and the management team, options papers, next step plans and so on.

The services are designed to be rapid, they’re designed to be strategic and designed to be tailored as well. We want our advice to be provided where it is the highest and best use and most valuable to you. The Business Advisory Service is as the name suggests. The support and advice that we can provide is flexible and on a needs basis. And there are some examples on the screen here around cashflow management, picking through the cost base, looking at budgeting and forecasting including what sensitivities there are to that forecasting, getting a better understanding of pricing, competition and general strategy as well.

From a Workforce Advisory perspective the matters that we expect to address are around your resourcing levels, workforce capability, recruitment and retention, talent pathways, workforce planning and staffing, org design, talent management processes and strategies, employee experience and then culture and leadership reviews. And Cass is well placed to talk about that if there’s any questions around a workforce.

And then providers may also be eligible for an integrated service which combines both Business and Workforce Advisory Services into one and delivered at the same time.

Since we commenced the program in late January we thought we’d walk through a few of the common themes that we’ve seen from providers. And this isn’t an exhaustive list and as I said before there will be unique and individual circumstances and challenges that arise for each provider but I’ll walk through these one by one.

So in terms of the workforce gaps I doubt there would be a provider that isn’t experiencing some form of workforce challenge at the moment. Competition for staff as well as visa constraints are certainly necessitating a high use of agency staff and that’s obviously increasing costs. Just the broad increase in agency costs as well which I think we’re all aware of. From a financial viability perspective we’re seeing often a number of factors contributing to this both on the revenue side but also on the cost side and workforce naturally feeds into this. We’re being asked to provide support on the most appropriate model to deliver services as well especially in home care.

In terms of the impact of reforms as we know the reforms continue to filter through. The common request we’re receiving is assisting and understanding the nature and impact of some of these reforms and how providers need to adapt and comply with the reforms. As we know some reforms aren’t compliance based but this is feeding into the broader strategic discussions as well.

From a governance perspective lots of questions and support required around the right governance and administrative support that needs to be in place, whether it’s on the prudential side in residential aged care or to meet the statutory requirements as well. And then balancing quality of costs. Obviously one of the key considerations in any clinical setting but balancing the maintaining of quality of service amid a broad increase in costs and profitability constraints has been reported across the board. Getting the rostering right to meet minute targets as well is an example of this that we’re seeing.

And then as Steph alluded to before around workforce, a sustainable workforce. That’s a big one, the questions about how do we maintain a sustainable and an effective workforce. We’ve been asked to provide some assistance on the L&D and enhancing this on general culture, enhancing career pathways to improve the employee value prop, boosting morale and retention and improving overall service quality as well. And also we’re getting some questions on what is the most effective workforce model that is required in certain settings. 

As I said before this isn’t an exhaustive list and we encourage each provider who applies for the program to set out what those unique challenges are to your current operations as well.

I’ll just quickly touch on the process that we have here for the program. So there’s a step through here of it and I’ll just walk through one by one. So in terms of the application providers are to apply through an intake form that we have on our EY website. The details of the website is on the next slide. The form itself is quite straightforward and just requires some basic information on your size, what services you deliver, setting out some of the challenges and concerns you have, and confirming whether you want workforce services, business advisory services or both. 

We then drop into an assessment and approval stage and those applications are assessed by EY and then ultimately approved by the Department. Providers are generally notified on the outcome of their application by EY within five business days. We’ll then hold an introductory kick off between EY and the individual provider. This is really just a meet and greet from our perspective and get a high level understanding of where we should spend our time and where we would be of most value. We’ll also ask for any relevant documentation and data and then we’ll agree on a kick off date.

Once we’ve agreed the kick off date and received some of the information or all of the information we’ll kick off the analysis and start to collaborate directly with each provider. So we’ll have a formal kick off with you and your team to meaningfully engage with yourself to understand the root cause of your challenges that you’ve put forward in your application. In some respects we may need to do some site visits depending on what those challenges are and we can work around what that looks like.

And then from an output perspective, so what can you expect, I mentioned before that the advice that we provide is flexible. So that might be in written reports or verbally or in another form. So we’ll look to give you that advice quite rapidly within about five to ten business days of receiving the information and having that formal kick off as well. And then importantly we can always do better and so feedback is critical to the continuous improvement of the program and we’ll incorporate feedback from providers as part of our ongoing evaluation of the advisory services. So we encourage those in the program to provide that feedback back to us to make sure that we are hitting the mark.

So to apply for the program or for any further information on the program feel free to visit our website that we’ve specifically established for this which is For any specific queries about the program or you’d like to speak to someone from our team feel free to shoot us an email which is on the screen there. And then for questions relating to the broader viability support offered by the Department outside of this program the contact for the Department email is on your screen as well. 

So that’s it. Thank you for listening in on this. Looking forward to the Q&A and looking forward to speaking with each of you over time. Thank you.

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘How to apply and contact us’, ‘You can apply via this link:’, ‘Click ‘Apply Now’, ‘You will need information regarding your organisation including size, services delivered and workforce to complete the application’, with image of QR code, ‘For any questions or enquiries:’, ‘To contact the Department:’]

Stephanie Kaiser:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Part 3’, ‘Remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Service Development Assistance Panel (SDAP) Program’]

Thanks for sharing with us today Colby. I’d now like to welcome Megan Lancaster to talk about the Remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Service Development Assistance Panel Program. Thanks Megan.

Megan Lancaster:

Great. Thanks both Colby and Steph. So the Remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Aged Care Service Development Assistance Panel Program very similar to the BAS and WAS that EY just explained is also another free program available for providers. Since this program started the Department has invested $6.9 million in this financial year and next year expecting to spend about $10 million next financial year.

Support is provided through three main categories, the first being provider capability and support. So this includes one on one assistance to review and build sustainable business and clinical practices. Sector development, so various training and education program resources aimed at regional and remote areas. And the third category is capital infrastructure project management. So this is really aimed at helping you with your project management and guidance to ensure you get the best outcomes from your capital infrastructure work.

So eligibility. The program is currently eligible to residential, home care and/or flexible aged care services providers in the MMM5 to MMM7 area as well as any providers who deliver services to First Nations people. Next financial year we’re also very happy to be able to extend that to providers in the MMM4 area.

So you can see on the slide now the different areas that we provide support very similar to what we do through the Business Advisory and the Workforce Advisory Services and under the SDAP Program we’ve been able to support up to 133 providers so far.

A significant proportion of the SDAP Program is providing providers as I said before with the one on one assistance and advice. However it’s also about what we can do at a regional level and how we can bring providers together to really support that overall sector capability. We do this through a range of different ways and education and training programs are one of those ways.

You can see on the screen now we’ve given a couple of examples of programs that we have run. The Remote Aged Care Management Training Program aims to build workforce capacity to lead aged care services in rural and remote Australia. The program also develops support networks for participants and we’re really interested in helping reduce the feeling of isolation and burnout to providers who are facing really significant challenges. This program also provides training, resources, mentoring, organisational governance, cultural safety support, tips and tricks around community engagement, assistance around planning and rostering. And as you can see from the theme there it really is about a one on one type of support that we aim to offer.

We’ve also produced a series of animated training videos and we were very proud to do this in collaboration with the East Arnhem Regional Council. These videos are targeted at Indigenous school leavers and personal care workers supporting them in their introduction into working in aged care and their communities.

The SDAP Program also facilitates a wide range of workshops on a range of subjects that I’ve touched on before. So I think what we’re really promoting here is the flexibility of this program.

So finally the important slide which is how do you apply. So if I could just refresh the eligibility for this program is for any residential, home care and/or flexible aged care services providers in that MMM5 to MMM7 area and next year we’ll be increasing that to MMM4 and of course all providers who mainly deliver services to First Nations people. You can apply through the Department website. So as you can see up on the screen there just simply go to our website. If you type in ‘Service Development Assistance Panel’ I’m hopeful that it should come up for you straight away. And we also have the link that you can click on there in the presentation.

Another great resource that you can reach out to if you’ve got any further questions about the support that the Department may be able to provide you is of course through our very friendly and engaging regional development staff. And you can see the emails for each of the different states and territories up on the screen.

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘How to apply and contact us’, ‘You can apply via the application form on the Department’s website’, ‘Enter ‘Service Development Assistance Panel’ into your browser’, ‘The application form is simple to fill out and will be used as a conversation starter with the Department to discuss the support tailored to your service’, with image of QR code, ‘For any questions or enquiries:’, ‘To contact the Department’s Regional Network in your state of territory:’, ‘NSW & ACT:’, ‘QLD & NT:’, ‘VIC & TAS: or’, ‘WA & SA:’]

So thanks Steph. I’ll probably shoot back to you now.

Stephanie Kaiser:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Part 4’, ‘Q&A session’]

Thanks Megan and thanks Colby. So it’s time for our Q&A session now. But before we go to that I would just really like to – can we flick over to the next slide because we just have some surveys that we are running in the Department. So I talked about the Home Care Workforce Support Program. And so we’ve got two surveys that we’re doing in relation to the evaluation of that program, so one for providers and one for workers. And we also have our aged care worker survey which is kind of the companion to the aged care provider survey which we ran last year. So the aged care worker survey is now open until the 30th of April. And I’d really appreciate if you’re able to share that link, share that QR code with everyone that you know that’s an aged care worker because we want to get as many people as possible filling out that survey so we can understand kind of what’s working for aged care workers and what’s not working. So sorry to interrupt the Q&A. I just wanted to make sure that people see those links before you shoot off at the end of the session.

Okay. Back to the Q&As.

I’ve got a few questions here that are about some practical advice. Colby is Cass going to be joining us on the Q&A session.

Colby O’Brien:

I think so. Yep.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Great. So we might just bring her onto the screen, bring her onto the stage. Here she is. Thanks Cass. So we’ve just got a few questions around the theme of it’s a very challenging time at the moment and there’s a lot of things changing in the aged care sector. 

Q:        What contemporary strategies have you seen aged care providers successfully use to attract, develop and retain workforce?

Cassandra Gandolfo:

Thanks Steph. And yeah there are a couple there so I’ll answer them together as far as I can. So we know that having enough workers with the right aptitude, skills and qualifications and keeping them is a major concern for aged care providers and for those across the care and support economy nationally, and can be particularly acute for those providers in regional and remote areas.

From an attraction and recruitment perspective some of the strategies that we’ve seen providers use are developing really comprehensive job descriptions and job advertisements that not only speak to the skills and qualifications that workers need but also to that organisation’s values and expectations and the aptitude and softer skills that a provider’s looking for, and implementing recruitment strategies to specific groups within the community that may have similar aptitude or skills requirements. And we’ve heard of providers looking at early retirees or other groups to assist with workforce surge for example.

Really important that providers collaborate with employment service providers, TAFEs and RTOs at a local level to understand where there might be opportunities around workforce. And to your point earlier Steph ensuring a seamless candidate experience through recruitment so we’re not turning the right people away because of an overly burdensome or drawn out recruitment process. And then once hired making sure we’ve got the right onboarding and induction processes in place to support new employees.

We know that attraction isn’t the end point though and recruitment is not the end point and I think providers are really starting to consider their overall employee value proposition and what makes them a good place to work. And some of the contemporary strategies we’ve heard from providers in that respect are around supporting staff through career pathways from carers through to enrolled nurses and beyond, or even to management and administration roles, hiring RNs while on placement which I know a lot of providers already do, as well as offering a more flexible workforce model through different rostering patterns that help them to utilise all of their workers to their capacity and preferences, and collaborating with other local providers as well.

We’d be very keen to talk to providers about the types of initiatives that you’re delivering to improve attraction, recruitment and retention and things that might have worked for you. And if you need assistance on those aspects then please get in touch as well.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Thanks Cass. So we’ve got a few questions here about the training system. One of them is about traineeships and apprenticeships and then another one is about the need for harmonised training and minimum qualifications for all workers. So I’ll just take those two. So in terms of traineeships and apprenticeships it’s a really good way to train up your workforce. It’s an opportunity for people to earn while they learn. And so it’s definitely something that the Government would encourage you to look at. And there’s also incentives available for both workers and employers who take part in the apprenticeship and traineeship system.

So to look into it a little bit more we can add a link into the chat but the Australian Apprenticeships Support Network providers are located across Australia and to engage in apprenticeships either prospective workers or employers should look at that on the Australian Apprenticeships website and they can contact their local Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider who will be able to provide you with assistance to engage in the apprenticeship system.

And then in terms of minimum qualifications for workers the Royal Commission had a recommendation about a registration scheme which included requirements around training and English language proficiency. So the Department will be undertaking some consultation on these elements of the registration scheme later this year and we’ll be really interested to hear people’s views and see how they would like to see this recommendation implemented.

So that’s it on those two questions.

So I’m just going through the questions and seeing – Cass there’s a lot of practical advice questions so I might throw to you again. So this one.

Q:        How do organisations manage set days or hours in employment agreements for PCAs in home care?

Cassandra Gandolfo:

Yeah. Thanks Steph. And so what I would say is that we know that these agreements can be really unique depending on the provider and the PCA and the support required by those accessing home care. So we’d be happy to speak to individual providers and provide advice through the Workforce Advisory Service on that at an individual level and also love to hear about what others are doing on this as well, as well as opportunities to collaborate with other providers if that’s of interest.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Thanks Cass.

I’ll take another question for myself.

Q:        What strategies are in place to support the increase required in RN numbers with the introduction of care minute targets for rural and remote areas?

So we know that recruitment for registered nurses can be more challenging in rural and remote areas. I think obviously the one thing that’s been very helpful to the sector in recruiting workers has been the pay rise but in rural and remote areas often there’s a need for more. So we have the Rural Locum Assistance Program which you can use to access some registered nurses or to fill gaps while your nurses are off training or taking some well earned leave. And then we also have programs to build your workforce from the ground up and establish the pipeline that I was talking about. So Clinical Placements Program, Transition to Practice Program and a Scholarships Program. So again I encourage you to go to our website and take a look at our workforce page and look at those programs and see what’s there for you. Obviously as well reaching out to access the Workforce Advisory Service. The Workforce Advisory Service can provide you with some more tailored strategies that takes into account your local context.

Okay. Another one Cass or Colby.

Q:        What’s the best selection methodology to target the most suitable frontline workers?

Cassandra Gandolfo:

Thanks Steph. So I tried to cover a bit of this in the other question about attraction and retention. Because what we know is that frontline workers need the right skills and qualifications and the right aptitude to work in aged care. And so to reiterate I think it’s making really clear those job descriptions and job advertisements so that you’re selecting people that are aligned to your organisation’s values and expectations, that you’re implementing recruitment strategies that target specific communities and people with similar aptitude or skills requirements and that you’re ensuring that seamless candidate experience from attraction through to onboarding so that you’re getting the right people through the door and through the onboarding and induction process.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Thanks Cass. Megan I’m not sure if you’ll have an answer to this right now but if not we’ll definitely get an answer out there to people after this webinar.

Q:        Is there any scope for this Advisory Service to be extended to community organisations who are in the process of becoming an aged care provider to offer aged care services to First Nations people?

 Megan Lancaster:

Yeah. No Steph. I’ve been looking at that one as well. I think it’s an excellent question and I’m interested in exploring it further. I think at the moment the criteria is for current providers. But we’re always really interested in supporting First Nations organisations that want to get into aged care so I’d be really keen to see that one through and come back to this group with the answer on that. And also the person who’s posted that and if you are that organisation looking to get involved into aged care please do email us at that SDAP email that came up before and we’ll definitely follow that one through.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Yes. And we’ll talk to our colleagues in the First Nations Aged Care Branch as well to see if there are other types of services that could be a support in those situations.

Megan Lancaster:

Hundred percent.

Stephanie Kaiser:

We’ve got another question about SDAP Megan.

Q:        Could you give us an idea of the time and financial investment required from an eligible provider who might be interested in applying for SDAP?

Megan Lancaster:

Yes. So I just wanted to check. I’m not sure when I’ve read that question if you’re sort of asking how much time it’s going to take you from your end to apply. The application forms, I think we’ve really sort of struck that balance between receiving enough information from you for us to be able to make a determination about your suitability while still keeping the application form sort of easy to read, easy to follow. If the question was about costs involved the program is a free service. It’s paid by the Government. We can provide support for up to an 18 month period with six one week on site visits by our members. And those panel members are also available for your mentoring. Hopefully that’s helped answer both sides of that question Steph.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Thanks Megan.

Colby or Cass.

Q:        Can you tell us about whether the Business and Workforce Advisory Service is able to provide advice on international recruitment strategies for RNs and carers?

Cassandra Gandolfo:

Thanks Steph. Yeah. Absolutely we can provide advice on that to providers. And we’re receiving a number of queries around immigration and aged care labour agreements as well. So be very interested in speaking to you on that.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Thanks Cass. I’m just seeing if we’ve got any questions that haven’t been answered yet. Yes.

Q:        How do you think we can leverage new technologies to mitigate the current challenges?

Cassandra Gandolfo:

Thanks Steph. So technology is offering a lot of opportunities for providers to mitigate current business and workforce challenges and many providers are already investing in technology and digital and solutions to improve both the quality of care for older people and the experience of their staff. The providers that we’re working with are really looking for options to streamline their processes, make financial operations and HR processes a lot more efficient and reduce burden on frontline staff freeing them up to do other tasks. And there’s opportunities for providers to use AI and care management systems to help improve communication between workers and residents or older people and improve quality of care. 

When speaking with providers we recognise that technology can be a really significant investment and so it’s important that any solution is affordable, it’s fit for purpose and meets the needs of the individual providers. So we’d be happy to talk about this as well with individual providers as they get in touch with us.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Thanks Cass. I think we’re running a bit low on questions so if you’ve got a question please put it through. And we’ll just give people a minute or so to provide any more questions that they have.

But again just to recap the Department’s website has a dedicated section about aged care workforce and that’s a really good place for you to go if you want to get a better understanding about all the different supports that are available. EY has a dedicated channel to access the Workforce Advisory Service and Business Advisory Service and there’s also information on our website about SDAP so please take a look. And we’ve got email addresses and things for all of our programs so just reach out if you have any additional questions. And we’ll have a copy of this webinar as well as the questions and answers on our website in the next few days.

So I think that is everything on questions. I think we’ve got through all of them. Colby, Megan, Cass, anything you’d like to add?

Colby O’Brien:

No. Not from me Steph. Thank you.

Megan Lancaster:

Just to sort of support that we’d love to see as many applications for both the Business Advisory Service and the Workforce Advisory Service offered by EY as well as the Service Development Panel. And I guess that email address to apply. We also welcome any feedback on those programs as well because we’re always looking to continually improve and build those programs. So thanks Steph.

Stephanie Kaiser:

Okay. Thank you everyone. Thanks for your time to the panellists and thanks also to everyone who joined us today. So before we finish I’d just like to let you all know that once the webinar finishes a short survey will pop up on your browser and the survey will take around one minute to answer. We’d really appreciate if you could take a moment to help us continue to deliver helpful and informative webinars. And as I mentioned before we also have some surveys out in the field at the moment to evaluate our programs as well as better understand what’s happening with the workforce. So really appreciate your support in making sure we can get as many people as possible to complete those surveys. And thank you again for your time today. Bye.

[End of Transcript]



  • Stephanie Kaiser, Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Workforce Branch
  • Megan Lancaster, Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Market Adjustment Branch
  • Colby O’Brien, Partner, Strategy and Transactions Ernst & Young
  • Cassandra Gandolfo, Director, People Consulting, Ernst & Young

About the webinar

In this webinar, Ernst and Young (EY) presented the Business and Workforce Advisory Services. The renewed program, which we fund, provides free, confidential advice on aged care business and workforce issues to eligible aged care and home care providers.

We provided a short overview of learnings from the recent Home Care Workforce Support Program evaluation.

We also provided information on other programs available to aged care providers, including the Remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Service Development Assistance Panel (SDAP).


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