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Aussies are getting older, and the health workforce needs training to reflect it

Deborah Parker writes in The Conversation (24.1.17) about how, as Australia’s population ages and life expectancy increases, so does the need for comprehensive health and care services for older people.

‘As our population ages and life expectancy increases, the need for comprehensive health and care services for older people becomes greater. Older people access health services across lots of different settings, but the ability for different services to share patient information is poor, and the opportunity to shift the costs from state and federal systems provides disincentives for them to coordinate services.

‘By 2031, almost one in five people will be aged 65 and over. If the system does not change by then, poorly equipped and uncoordinated services will fail our most vulnerable. Health carers need to be trained in dealing with the issues of the ageing population, and we need to be able to identify appropriate models of care that reflect the whole person’s needs.

‘… With the demand for the aged care workforce nearly tripling, the need for an appropriately skilled and regulated workforce is needed. We still don’t know how this can be done, or how to make sure workers are properly trained.’

We’ve had 20 aged care reviews in 20 years – will the royal commission be any different?

Jane Phillips and colleagues write in The Conversation (20.9.18) that issues of understaffing and poor staff training in aged care raised in a Four Corners report this week have also been found in previous reviews into aged care.

‘Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is one of more than 20 such inquiries into aged care stemming back to 1997. This latest inquiry, announced on Sunday, will no doubt highlight the systemic problems that have been previously reported.

‘The Australian aged care sector is one of the most highly regulated complex care environments. It would be fair to say the sector has been working on establishing an optimal care model for the past two decades that is more consumer focused.

‘Older Australians and their families need to know the facility they have chosen will provide safe, high quality, person-centred care that is grounded in respect, comfort and dignity. However, as revealed on Four Corners on Monday night, this is not always the case. Many stories that were shared reflect wider systems failures, which have been highlighted in the numerous inquiries that have preceded this royal commission.’

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