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Smart daily: coming of aged care

The aged care sector continues to tackle the shortage of aged care workers and the increase in demand.

Prestige Inhome Care CEO Nick McDonald recently shared in the media how the demand for aged care services makes the senior care sector a stable career choice and the importance of the work that carers do. Prestige carer Donna talks of the personal rewards a job in care brings.


By: Lauren Ahwan

Australia’s aged care sector aims to reposition itself as an industry of choice for workers, promising higher pay and guaranteed job security.

It is hoped better work conditions, along with improved care standards, will increase the appeal of the sector, which needs an immediate injection of 35,000 workers.

By 2030, at least 110,000 new aged care workers will be needed, according to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

The reputation of aged care has taken a battering in recent times, amid damning Royal Commission findings and historically poor rates of pay, making it a sector few wish to work in. But aged care providers say recommendations from the commission are being implemented and, while carers last month won a 15 per cent pay rise, demand for workers means actual salaries already exceeds the award.

“You won’t find too many providers that are paying only award wages,’’ says Aged and Community Care Providers Association policy and advocacy general manager Tim Hicks. “Most are paying above award, particularly for nurses.”


Employment opportunities within aged care exist for “pretty much every profession’’, Hicks says.

While carers, nurses, lifestyle officers and allied health workers, such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists, are needed to work directly with the elderly, there is also a need for chefs and those with skills in finance, administration and management.

“The other huge advantage that aged care has is that it’s everywhere,’’ Hicks says. “It’s not just in the capital cities – (there are aged care providers) in every town, every suburb, every region. There are opportunities in aged care no matter where you live.’’


About 1.3 million older Australians receive care either in home or at a residential facility.

However, with the first Baby Boomers on the cusp of turning 80 – and many in their sixties – it is predicted there will be 8.7 million Australians aged 65 or older by 2057.

Prestige Inhome Care chief executive officer Nick McDonald says the demand for aged care services has made the profession virtually bulletproof.

“There’s plenty (of other industries) that are getting whacked right now and are despairing at the current climate but there’s always going to be demand for what (aged care workers) do,’’ he says.

“There are a lot of prospects and you can get paid a lot to do it. It’s hard to see a scenario where disrupters can come along and negate the need for this kind of work – it’s almost a recession (proof) job.”

McDonald says the willingness of providers to pay high wages reflects the strong demand for staff and the importance of the work undertaken.

“Some would argue (aged care workers) are not necessarily degree qualified, that there’s a pretty low barrier to entry and it’s pretty easy to become a carer but they do have a fair bit of responsibility,” he says.


ECH chief executive Claire Scapinello believes people want “meaningful, more purpose-driven employment” post-Covid and says aged care delivers in spades.

“If you are looking for a meaningful career, that gives back to our older generation, then there are lots of wonderful opportunities,” she says. “And, as the industry grows, there will be even more opportunities for employment and career progression and that’s exciting.”

Donna Williams has worked for residential and at-home care providers and says the ability to form close relationships with those she cares for makes her job extremely rewarding.

“There’s one lady I’ve been with (caring for) for nearly three years and she just brightens up whenever she sees me,” Williams says.

“To have that effect on someone – and to know that she looks forward to me coming to see her – is just unbelievable. You really can change someone’s whole day.”

This Smart Daily article originally appeared on 8 December 2022 in the following publications. Subscribers can click to view: Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Advertiser, Courier Mail