How can aged-care sector address the workforce shortage challenge right now?

The shortage of hiring trained nurses for the aged care industry reached a crisis point in 2018. Since then, the industry has experienced a significant demand in aged care caregivers and nurses as the onset of the pandemic closed borders to the rest of the world, including trained nurses, who make up a third of the sector’s workforce – this crisis has now reached a tipping point. 

New Zealand has a fast growing ageing population. An estimated 20,000 more people will need residential aged care facilities in the next 10 years. According to Health of Older People Portfolio Manager Sharon Adler, an average of 15.9 people per 1000 population were being cared for in aged residential care nationally, but this number was expected to increase exponentially over time with 16,000 Kiwis a year forecast to die of dementia by 2038. 

If measures are not put in place to remove the current stresses on the industry now, the situation will only worsen and our elderly will be the ones that suffer most.

Workforce availability is a constant challenge faced by many aged care facilities. So, what can the facilities do right now to address this issue? 

Employer sponsored approach for international nurses

Historically, more than half of aged care nurses have come from overseas but with the borders shut, the sector has not been able to backfill the nurses it lost this year.

One way to address this issue would be to take an employer sponsored approach for international nurses who need to do Competency Assessment Program for Overseas Registered Nurses (CAP).

Although many international nurses may not have an aged care experience, but if they are supported to work as Level 4 Caregiver during their study, they can ease the workload right now, while continuing to study to become excellent nurses. 

This will help aged-care facilities build a robust talent pipeline. 

Companies can provide incentives in the form of paying for the CAP program as a sign on bonus, with a minimum contract of two years. This will ensure the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Aged care providers can also work with companies like specialised healthcare recruitment and staffing agency, DeoCare to identify and hire internationally qualified nurses who are already in New Zealand. 

Incentives nurses into aged-care

It is a fact well-known that aged care workers are leaving the sector for better pay and working conditions at District Health Boards. 

According to Aged Care Association Chief Executive Officer, Simon Wallace, nationally, 900 registered nurses left the aged care sector in the past 12 months, with 70 per cent going to District Health Boards.

While the aged-care industry may not be able to compete with the salaries offered by DHBs, facilities can make the sector more appealing by providing compensation to the nurses. Offering attractive staff discounts for everything from groceries, fuel, clothing and footwear, to electronics and dining out, can ensure that the demand on the staff’s time is met with equal remuneration. 

This can lead to an interindustry collaboration that could lead to growth and learning opportunities across industries.  

New Zealanders are living longer. Older Kiwis are looking for more choice in their later years. There is pay parity issue along with a major staffing issue – these are the realities faced by aged care facilities 

At DeoCare NZ, we understand how difficult this can be. 

It is our mission to work with you to find a solution. Get in touch with us and let us help you relieve some of the stress in finding you the right person.