Changing the landscape for caregivers

As demand for quality in-home care rises, recognising and retaining caregivers has never been more important

By Maria Deveson Crabbe, CEO, Absolute Care & Health 

With our ageing population and increasing life expectancy, Australia stands on the cusp of a ‘silver tsunami’. Within the next 30 years, it’s projected Australia will be home to an extra 1.2 million people aged 85 and over. The average older person will live an extra five years, equating to an extra six million years of care.

At the same time, we have the double burden of an ageing workforce on the brink of retirement and a critical shortage of caregivers. For far too long, our nation’s caregivers have been underpaid and undervalued, with a lack of training, education and support, creating a sector that is struggling to recruit and retain the quality and mix of staff that are increasingly in demand.

Federal government reforms are now working to improve the way services are delivered to older people in their homes. Recent changes to Home Care Packages are empowering seniors to live in the familiar surroundings and comfort of their own homes for longer, giving them far greater choice about who provides their care and what it looks like.

It’s a crucial step in the right direction. Demand is escalating for in-home care as more seniors, and their families, realise the emotional wellbeing and quality-of-life benefits for older people able to maintain their independence.

But more change is needed for the sector to be able to cope with the increasing demand for high quality in-home care for our seniors. For example, aged care certification training is predominantly focused towards a facility (aged-care home) environment. Yet there are many nuances, soft-skills, and vital competencies for an in-home care environment that are not fully addressed in most certificate training courses.

Caregivers – the key ingredient

Absolute Care & Health was founded to make life better for seniors. As an innovative provider, we deliver occasional and ongoing care, help with the transition from hospital to the home, and offer total 24-hour care, to hundreds of clients across Melbourne.

Our caregivers are the very heart of our business. They represent our brand, our organisation and our values. They are our single most important asset.. They enable us to go beyond the delivery of crucial services, such as transport, meal preparation or assisting with hygiene and grooming, to provide the real meaning of ‘care’ which is about feeling interest and concern – attaching importance to the client as an individual.

Our caregivers are matched to our clients’ individual personality traits and interests. They provide the essential element of companionship, taking the time to chat with their clients about their incredibly rich lives. They also ensure our clients are able to continue to live their lives the way they want to – whether that’s taking them out for their daily coffee or playing chess.

It’s time the aged care sector better valued our nation’s caregivers. At Absolute Care & Health, we are pioneering a new era for caregivers and, ultimately, for our clients. We are embarking upon an exciting stage of development that we hope will set a new industry benchmark – changing the landscape for caregivers and, as a result, for those they care for.

Caring for those who care

As a progressive in-home care provider, we are investing in our workforce – providing the highest standards of training, ongoing professional development and mentoring in this specialised field. We recently created a new role of Caregiver Innovation Director, elevating caregiver representation to a senior management level and ensuring that reshaping the caregiver piece of the jigsaw is prioritised.

This year we will be introducing a significant new model underpinning the way we ensure our caregivers are trained for, and supported in, the in-home care environment.

We are also pioneering new ways of using technology to connect with and provide support to our caregivers in a more meaningful and personalised way. Our new model of employment, which is being rolled out this year, will work to deliver a highly trained, engaged and passionate workforce of caregivers.

With the aged care sector facing mounting challenges, it’s never been more important to elevate the status of our caregivers in order to provide our seniors with the ultimate in-home care and support. With the right workforce foundations, our golden years can become a golden opportunity for ageing well.