34% of home care workers left their jobs in 2020 compared to national average of 8.2%: Aged Care Workforce Census

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The 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census shows that the high rate of churn among aged care workers extends to home care and the CHSP – with the pandemic creating further workforce challenges for providers.

You can find last week’s story about the RAC workforce figures here.

The Census shows that there were 80,340 staff in the Home Care Packages Program in 2020 – 64,019 were direct care roles.

PCWs account for 88% of these roles, while 6% were nurses (76% RNs) and 6% allied health staff (22% physiotherapists). The workforce is still largely part-time however, with 92% of the more than half (55%) permanently employed working part-time.

In the CHSP, PCWs were 80% of the workforce, nurses 12% and allied health professionals 8%.

Like the RAC sector, the workforce is also becoming younger with around one-third of direct care staff under the age of 40.

The median ages across PCWs and ENs in both HCPP and CHSP is younger than in 2016 (when it was 52 and 51 years) and now lies between 40-49 years – suggesting older workers are retiring and being replaced by younger staff.

Turnover 3x the national average

The HCP and CHSP programs also share the same workforce shortages – HCP providers reported a total of 6,479 vacancies in direct care roles across both PCW and nursing roles at the time of the Census.

Turnover was high with 34% of all worked employed in these roles leaving their jobs in the 12 months to November 2020 – turnover of RNs and PCWs was higher than that of other roles, with 30% and 35% respectively having left their employment over the 12-month period.

For the CHSP, the turnover rate was 26%.

Compare this to an average national turnover of 8.2% in the same period.

COVID-19 also played a role in moving on staff, with 18% of home care services reported a decrease in PCWs due to COVID-19. 605 reported no change while 21% reported an increase. Volunteers also decreased by 33%.

CHSP providers also reported a 28% decrease in staff.

Many home care providers reported fear about the virus among staff last year and the numbers suggest that this saw a number of staff either look for work elsewhere or restrict their work to one employer – but this is hard to know definitively.

The responses from home care and CHSP providers were lower than the RAC responses with the findings collected from providers, not directly from workers, because of COVID-19.

As the Royal Commission found, there is still a need for more comprehensive data on the aged care workforce to assist both providers and the Government in their workforce planning and development.