More than 25,000 health professionals would need to begin training today to meet the exploding demand for aged care workers, a peak body of allied health academics says.
The aged care royal commission's damning report, released in 2021, found fundamental and systemic flaws in the sector that had subjected older Australians to substandard care, abuse and neglect.
Though governments have made strides in improving the system, Australians in aged care are receiving an average of eight minutes of allied health care each day, falling well short of the 22 minutes recommended by the commission.
With the number of Australians eligible for aged care services expected to balloon from 4.35 million to 5.65 million over the next decade, the sector needs new trainees.
Deputy chair of the Australian Council of Deans of Health Sciences Terry Haines said it would be a "massive task" to recruit the number of staff needed, given the high demand, obstacles to supply and the time required.
"We need to be planning for it, preparing for it and working with government to realise it now," Professor Haines said.
To achieve 22 minutes a day by 2033, Australia needed to train another 25,000 allied health professionals starting immediately, he said.
This would mean increasing the number of graduates and allied health care training places by more than threefold from the 10,000 currently offered each year.
Even then, Prof Haines questioned whether 22 minutes of care a day was enough.
Raising the amount to 30 minutes could yield even better results that would provide Australians with better nutrition, improved health and wellbeing outcomes and reduce falls and injuries.
But doing this would require an additional 38,000 allied health professionals over the next 10 years.
"If the government is not willing to back that benchmark, then they will need to back research to understand what level of allied health in aged care is adequate to deliver care to residents and prevent an undue burden on the wider health system," Prof Haines said..
Though the federal government has taken steps to improve aged care outcomes like increasing pay for carers and mandating certain staffing levels, qualified health professionals have continued to leave the industry.
Australian Associated Press
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