In this interview, we speak with Nick Ryan, CEO of Lutheran Services which operates at 20 facilities throughout Queensland, providing aged care, community and home care services and employing more than 1500 people.
IA: We are interested in your view with respect to the 15% pay raise for aged care workers that will take effect from June 30. The optimist in me feels that this should translate to a net inflow of workers as more people enter the sector (attracted by higher wages) and those already employed are encouraged to stay. Are you starting to see this already?
Nick: We welcome the 15% minimum wage increase for direct aged care workers and the recognition and appreciation it provides for the phenomenal work being done in our industry.
The Government is to be commended for this first step and we look forward to the next phase as the Fair Work Commission continues to consider and decide the real wage value for all aged care workers. (at the time of this interview a decision had not yet been made in relation to awards wages)
At Lutheran Services, as most of our staff are already paid above award rates, we don’t anticipate we’ll see a great deal of change.
However, more broadly speaking, the increase should encourage more people to consider entering the aged care industry through the greater financial security provided.
It’s so important aged care workers are financially supported and valued for their service and contribution to our communities.
In addition to this, through our staff surveys, we’ve learnt that support (including flexibility, a focus on wellbeing, shared values of care, and opportunities to learn and grow) goes a long way in retaining staff. Through these measures, we’re committed to reshaping the narrative of what it’s like to work in aged care.
While wage is important, we need to work together as a sector to shape and rebuild the reputation of the aged care industry, showing the many possibilities and rewards it offers.
IA: There has been much written about workers being shed by the ‘Gig’ economy, including some retail employers. Are you actively targeting these sectors or others in a bid to attract staff and what other ways are you going about attracting staff?
Nick: There’s no doubt that aged care workforce shortages are a critical issue nationwide and we’ve left no stone unturned in innovating our recruitment practices.
We don’t target specific sectors but rather promote care vocations and the many possibilities of working in aged care to as many people as possible.
We’re committed to being an employer of choice and one of Queensland’s most loved aged care providers – and are proud to have staff from a wide range of backgrounds and skills.
In the past year, Lutheran Services launched and expanded recruitment programs for high-demand roles, including personal carers and registered nurses.
Our Grow Your Future program, targeting those interested in entering the aged care industry, has trained almost 60 new personal carers, who gain paid work experience while working towards a Certificate lll in Individual Support.
Through our Transition to Practice program, created in partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast, we offer final-year nursing students placements at our aged care communities. The program is designed to fast-track students’ employment options post-university and create work-ready graduates with expanded insights, skills and passions for caring for older people.
We’re proud to have recently commenced our second Transition to Practice intake, with 14 students starting across three sites in Southeast Queensland, with another 13 students confirmed for our November intake.
Both programs promote aged care as an exciting and highly rewarding career opportunity, helping to strengthen the public’s perception of and interest in the sector.
These programs, amongst other measures – such as additional shift allowances, relocation support and recruiting nationally and internationally – will support us to fulfil the Federal Government’s requirement for 24/7 RNs, coming into effect from July 1.
IA: With these increases in compliance and reporting what are you doing in the area of training to ensure staff (especially new staff) are up to speed with all that is required?
Nick: At Lutheran Services, we have a strong focus on training and development and have a multi-modal approach to ensuring our staff are up to speed with increasingly complex compliance and reporting requirements.
This is an area we have always invested heavily in, both in terms of the training resources provided and the time our staff dedicated to this.
All new staff undergo comprehensive training plans, including what’s needed to meet key regulatory requirements, with ongoing training provided as regulatory changes roll out.
In addition to this, we have a dedicated Quality and Compliance team that works alongside our Learning and Development team to ensure we have up-to-date content and well-planned training delivered to our people.
To attract people to the aged care industry, we offer comprehensive on-the-job training, seen particularly through our Grow Your Future program. The latest round of recruitment for this program attracted over 300 applicants, double its usual amount, highlighting the value prospective employees place on training and skills development.
IA: Thank you