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 (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.

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 also 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:

  • moving to the location of highest quality at lowest cost
  • being automated and roboticised
  • benefitting from Artificial Intelligence

This disruption 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 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 each provider and significantly different between ASX listed providers, large faith-based providers 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 failure to manage unacceptable staff behaviour.

The Provider’s challenge is to confirm current workforce skills and staffing levels to produce consistent quality outcomes.

Increasing frailty, more intensive care needs, shorter stays, revenue constraints and changing workforce composition are well documented.  Overseas born workers filled vacancies and reduced cost but debate rages about essential qualifications, numbers of qualified staff and investment in upskilling staff.

Some larger providers are bureaucratic and top heavy with 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, family,  community or government expectations. Informed consumers and the contrast between ‘old style’ institutional managers and those who demonstrate resident centred care will determine occupancy and financial sustainability.

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

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

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