MEDIA RELEASE: Improved wages for aged care workers critical to quality care

Improved wages for aged care workers announced by the federal government today will be welcomed by older people and their families as a modest first step to better quality care, seniors advocate COTA Australia said.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said older people’s experience with aged care was very dependent on the quality and number of staff available to provide their care.

“Older people rightly expect high quality care – whether they receive it at home or in a residential facility,” Mr Yates said.

“One of the biggest concerns older people have about aged care is that staff are underpaid and overworked and don’t have enough time to spend with them; or haven’t been adequately trained.

“Aged care nurses don’t get paid on par with their colleagues in mainstream hospitals even if they have the same qualifications. They fill just as critical roles.

“Working with older people is just as important as working with anyone else in the community and shouldn’t be paid less, offered less training, or be seen as a lesser career.

“Today’s announcement at least goes a small way to begin to acknowledge this issue.

“Between now and 2050 Australia will need an extra 500,000 aged care workers – how will we attract them if we don’t pay them well and provide the same working conditions as in other sectors?”

Mr Yates said COTA also welcomes the government’s intention to convene a broader workforce working group to develop an Aged Care Workforce Development Plan.

“While the wage issue is paramount there also need to be improved conditions more broadly for our precious aged care workforce including better career structures and pathways and improved training and education.

“It is heartening to see the government moving in this direction.”

The workforce reforms were called for by the National Aged Care Alliance, of which COTA is a member, in its Blueprint for Aged Care Reform.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774