Lack of staff the main reason aged care workers want to leave the job, study finds – just 32 staff from three Not For Profits surveyed

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A new study by Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute and the University of Adelaide has confirmed what the Royal Commission has already shown.

Published in the International Nursing Review, ‘Care workers’ perspectives of factors affecting a sustainable aged care workforce’ surveyed just 32 aged care professionals from three Not For Profits to identify why people joined, stayed or left the industry.

Work-related stress, a lack of career progression and up-skilling opportunities were all pinpointed as major causes for the low retention rate.

Lead author and researcher in the Caring Futures Institute, Professor Lily Xiao (pictured right), said policymakers and employers had to do more to attract and then retain workers.

“Participants perceived that inadequate staffing levels were the main sources of stress they experienced in the workplace and influenced their intention to leave the job,” Professor Xiao said.

“They also reported that managers who lacked nursing care knowledge and were not approachable for staff to share their thoughts and ideas, but made integral decisions made their day-to-day work more difficult. On the contrary, managers and supervisors who developed social bonds with team members and shared decision making with the team attracted staff to stay.”

The findings suggest employer-sponsored education is a key step toward career progression, and by extension, worker retention.

“Addressing those issues needs collective actions among policymakers, education providers and aged care organisations,” Professor Xiao said.

The research is part of a larger study entitled ‘Achieving a skilled and sustainable aged care workforce for Australia’ being funded by the Australian Research Council.

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