This submission focuses predominantly on the aged-care workforce and we have addressed the Commission’s Terms of Reference (TOR) pertinent to this area (see Appendix 1 for the full TOR). This submission has been developed in consultation with our Health Professions Education Standing Group (HPESG) which comprises senior university sector representatives from all health professional disciplines and jurisdictions (see Attachment A for further information).
Our specific focus is on the education and training of health professionals – nurses, doctors, dentists, pharmacists and allied health professionals – and the contribution they can make both as students and as qualified health professionals to enhancing the quality of care for older Australians. Universities play a major role in educating such health professionals. All universities deliver health professional education and most offer multiple courses. Such education relies on close interaction with health, aged-care and disability services, particularly for the clinical education (or placement) component.
Clinical placement experiences are mandatory in all pre-registration health professional courses. Where and how health professional students undertake such placements – and the quality of these experiences – provides notable benefits to clients and services. They can also have a profound effect on where students choose to practice once qualified. The service settings within which placements occur therefore play an important role in workforce distribution and can support workforce growth and skill development in needed areas such as aged-care. However, most clinical education continues to be in acute-care. Collaboration between universities and aged-care services can develop the learning environments in which placements and other skills development can occur. Any aged-care workforce formation must necessarily consider these aspects in developing its education and training pipelines. The challenges of developing such approaches and placements and proven ways to support them are outlined in the following responses. Many of these points have been made previously in UA’s submission to the Aged-care Strategy Workforce Taskforce and UA refers the Commission to this submission (see Attachment B).
Throughout this submission, except where otherwise qualified, “Aged-care” is used to include both residential facilities and those aged-care services provided to older people living at home receiving community-based support.