Workforce Planning in Residential Aged Care (1 of 4)

What is Workforce Planning?

Workforce Planning aligns the needs and priorities of an organisation with workforce skills and expertise to meet mission, organisational objectives and compliance obligations.

Growth in non-labour options (casualisation, automation, robotics, Artificial Intelligence) challenge the labour based business models we have taken for granted since work was first automated.

The planning outcome reshapes the workforce recognising the operational impact of change on the skills and expertise available and required for future success. Each resignation is an opportunity. New positions and new skills replace old roles.

Why Workforce Planning?

Organisations are always in transition. In days of the internet of things, global supply chains and human centric innovation, the pace of change is faster than ever before.

McKinsey Global Institute research found a global average of 50% of labour hours have potential to be automated. CEDA research estimates almost 40% of jobs in Australia have a moderate-to-high likelihood of disappearing in 10-to-15 years.

Telstra is reducing its Australian workforce by 8,000 to save costs while investing in an Indian Innovation and Capability Centre (ICC) to recruit 300 network and software engineers based in Bangalore.

There is a clear trend to work:

  • being casualised reducing cost but challenging quality and continuity
  • moving to the location of highest quality at lowest cost
  • being automated and roboticised
  • benefitting from Artificial Intelligence

Disruptive trends drives the need for workplace planning in both the old and new workplaces which is a bigger challenge in industries where labour is 50%+ of total expenditure.

In times of economic, social and political disruption, failing to workforce plan is planning to fail.

Workforce Planning in Residential Aged Care

A single residential aged care business model does not exist.  Models are as individual as providers and significantly different between ASX listed, large faith-based and standalone ‘not for profit’ providers.

All providers need ‘front of house’ skills to deliver quality care and effective ‘back of house’ systems to support efficient provision of quality care.  

The transparency of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality will shine a light on claims of poor care and unacceptable staff behaviour.

The Provider’s challenge is to confirm to stakeholders that current workforce skill and staffing levels can produce consistent quality outcomes over the short and long term.

Trends in increasing resident frailty, more intensive care needs, shorter stays, revenue constraints and changing workforce composition are well documented.  A large influx of overseas born workers filled staff vacancies and reduced cost but debate still rages about essential qualifications, numbers of qualified staff and investment in upskilling staff.

Some larger providers are bureaucratic and top heavy with too many non-care related staff. Standalone providers often provide insufficient support for senior staff to work ‘on the business’ in areas such as strategy, workforce planning, dynamic resource allocation and performance management.

The contrast between the percentage of ‘not for profits’ in deficit and the profitability of ASX providers confirms the importance of workforce planning in a labour intensive industry with uncertain financial sustainability.

The Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce Report took a ‘business as usual’ workforce planning view in spite of substantial and ongoing change.

‘More of the same’ workforce composition is unlikely to meet resident or other key stakeholder’s expectations. Informed consumers and the contrast between ‘old style’ institutional managers and those who demonstrate resident centred care will determine occupancy.

Financial sustainability as a consequence of occupancy unless the labour model is flexible enough to adjust to changes in occupancy.

New service models must evolve to deliver higher quality outcomes. resident centred care principles and learning from other industries will assist develop new models with different skills and a different workforce composition to meet defined quality resident outcomes.

Strategic workforce planning identifies the workforce composition required to deliver quality care in a financially sustainable business model acknowledging the potential of automation, robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

“We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”   Albert Einstein