New aged care program targets displaced workers

Posted: 16th Apr

Aged care peak body Leading Age Services Australia and training organisation Altura Learning have teamed up to train out-of-work staff from the tourism, hospitality, beauty and retail sectors to work in aged care.

The national COVID-19 redeployment program aims to train and place large numbers of displaced workers to support the continuous care of aged care residents and clients.

It involves a 10-hour online work-ready course for a new and temporary “aged care assistant” support role to help with meals, moving around, recreation and hair brushing.

Participating organisations will receive support to ensure new workers provide high quality and safe services.

LASA general manager of policy and advocacy Tim Hicks said the program is open to any aged care organisation needing replacement staff due to COVID-19.

“It is primarily aimed at residential care because there is currently a greater staffing need in residential facilities,” Mr Hicks told Australian Ageing Agenda.

LASA has been working with employee groups the Australian Workers Union, the Australian Services Union and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation to develop the program.

Mr Hicks said aged care providers were planning for a 30 per cent staffing impact from COVID-19 across the various roles within aged care.

“With more than 360,000 people employed in aged care, this means potentially thousands of positions will need to be filled,” he said.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the “win-win” program would benefit both the aged care sector and people in need of work.

The program aims to support existing staff and not devalue them or take their jobs away,” he said.

“Our aged care workforce has already been impacted by COVID-19, with increasing numbers likely to be absent due to quarantine and testing regimes.

“To maintain care continuity, we’re asking people who may have lost positions in other sectors such as tourism, hospitality, beauty or retail to try out a new and rewarding career,” Mr Rooney said.

Creating aged care assistants

The new position will be classified and paid as Aged Care Employee Level 2 under the Aged Care Award 2010 or the equivalent classification under an employer’s enterprise agreement, Mr Hicks said.

“This classification doesn’t have any qualifications, so the modern award doesn’t have to be varied. Employers will be employing these employees directly so it’s just a matter of employing them as normal as casuals or on fixed terms,” he said.

Practically aged care assistants support daily living activities so existing staff are free to focus on critical health care.

The new role will include assisting with:

  • meal distribution, preparation, and supervision
  • mobilising care recipients, including use of a wheelchair
  • non-intimate hygiene such as brushing teeth and hair and face and hand hygiene
  • social and recreational activities
  • bed making and distribution of clean linen
  • general administrative duties.

Altura Learning CEO Yvie Webley said the dynamic program includes a workforce-ready online training package to quickly prepare aged care assistants for the role.

“The training package will take up to 10 hours to complete and everyone undertaking the tuition will be individually assessed to ensure they can demonstrate adequate knowledge, aptitude and understanding of the role.

“We will also be coordinating placement with aged care providers and ensure every recruit is screened, has passed relevant background checks and has a police clearance,” Ms Webley said.

A recruitment company is being contracted to provide the placement service.

Advertisements for jobs and training will be placed on national job platforms over the next week.

Source: Australian Aging Agenda -