Australia, like many other countries worldwide is experiencing an ageing population (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013).
Many aged care facilities report shortages of staff, frequently registered nurses (National Institute of Labour Studies 2012). In Australia, efforts have been directed towards improving student registered nurse attitudes towards working in aged care, (Anderson et al. 2017) and towards graduate nurse programs which assist the newly graduated registered nurse to develop skills and knowledge appropriate to working in aged care (Willetts et al. 2017). These developments have described some successes. Several countries (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) which are struggling to staff aged care facilities are employing overseas born workers. Despite their struggles with language and communication, these staff often indicate that the meaning they associate with their work is a motivating factor and many intend to stay in the sector. Supportive and flexible workplaces were associated with the intention to stay (Gao et al. 2015). This resonates with other studies where supportive management was linked to an intention to continue working in aged care (Backman et al. 2016). In the United Kingdom nurses are beginning to view aged care as having a career path and generally a more appealing proposition for working in than was previously the case. They value the autonomy of the work and the encouragement to ‘get to know’ a resident rather than attempting to discharge them as soon as possible (Houchin 2016). An improved vision of aged care by managers, staff, residents and the community would be beneficial to everyone in ageing populations, attracting the best staff and ensuring that they stay. Hopefully, such a change is beginning.
- Anderson, J., Bernoth, M., & Croxon, L. 2017. Partnerships for learning and mentoring in aged care. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 24(7), 36.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2013. Population projections, Australia 2012 (base) to 2101.
- Backman, A., Lövheim, H., Sjögren, K., Lindkvist, M., & Edvardsson, D. 2016. Characteristics of highly rated leadership in Swedish nursing homes. The Gerontologist, 56(Suppl_3), 283-283.
- Corazzini, K. 2016. Systems Research in Long-term Care Special Interest Group Session: Leadership in long-term care and its association to care worker outcomes in four countries. The Gerontologist, 56(Suppl_3), 283-283.
- Gao, F., Tilse, C., Wilson, J., Tuckett, A., & Newcombe, P. 2015. Perceptions and employment intentions among aged care nurses and nursing assistants from diverse cultural backgrounds: A qualitative interview study. Journal of Aging Studies, 35 (Supplement C), 111-122.
- Houchin, P. 2016. A Cinderella service no more? Nursing Standard, 30(20), 64. National Institute of Labour Studies. (2012). The Aged Care Workforce, 2012 – Final Report. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.
- Willetts, G., Aberdeen, S., Hood, K., & Cross, W. 2017. The dynamic role of the graduate nurse in aged care: An Australian experience of delivering an aged care graduate nurse program. Collegian, 24(4), 397-402.
- Zuniga, F., Simon, M., & Schwendimann, R. 2016. Supportive Leadership Related to Staff Attraction and Retention in Swiss Nursing Homes. The Gerontologist, 56(Suppl_3), 283-283.
Dr Judith Anderson is Facility Manager at Opal Specialist Aged Care
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