Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Counting Those We Count On: Improving Workforce Data in Aged Care
Wednesday 12 October 2022
2:30pm – 3:00pm
Adrian McGahen is a Data Analyst working in the Aged Care Data Improvement Unit at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The unit is currently working with the Department of Health to reform the data systems within the aged care sector in line with recommendations 67 and 108 in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The unit, along with its sister unit the Ageing and Aged Care Unit, also maintains and updates the GEN website which provides detailed data about aged care services, admissions, spending and many other topics.
As part of the official response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommendations, the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has been tasked with the creation of a Data Strategy, National Minimum Data Set, and Data Asset for the aged care sector. The Data Strategy will set out the broad vision, the NMDS will specify the core data items to be collected, and the Data Asset will link aged care data with other relevant data sources. The broad aims of these instruments are to improve data quality, close data gaps, and to make better use of the data that aged care workers, providers and services use their valuable time to collect. Ultimately the goal is to improve outcomes for people using aged care services in Australia.
One critical data gap that affects providers, services and decisions-makers at every level is workforce data. The key current source, the Aged Care Workforce Census conducted by the Department of Health, may soon be augmented by other information, such as worker screening and care minutes data. Other more detailed information is often collected by providers and supporting information can be gleaned from population surveys and the Census, tax information, job vacancies and other sources.
Improving the consistency of collection, the uniformity of scope, and the data standards of these disparate data sources is clearly critical. However the problem is more conceptually complex. What constitutes an aged care worker? Do we mean direct care only? Should we include staff that provide education and other support functions? What about accounting for staff that are employed by labour hire companies? How do we integrate existing provider collections without imposing an extra burden? We need the sector to help us come up with the answers to these questions.
In this presentation we will describe the existing data sources, explore the problems we face in addressing the workforce data gaps, and outline some possible solutions. In the future, we aim for data that are consistent, comparable and useful. In turn, better data will allow providers, consumers and government to make more informed decisions and gain new insights into the sector that can help generate efficiencies and better outcomes. As the work is ongoing, any feedback received at the conference will contribute to the development of the Data Asset, NMDS and ultimately the Data Strategy.
100-word Twitter Summary: How can we deepen and solidify our knowledge of the aged care workforce? Current data are collected from a variety of sources and measure different things. At the moment we barely even agree on what counts as ‘workforce’, so how can we count anything else? This presentation highlights some of the current challenges and charts a path forward: by better leveraging information that is already collected and improving consistency across the collections, we can get better data on aged care’s most valuable asset – the people who provide care.
How can we deepen our knowledge of the aged care workforce? By leveraging existing information and improving consistency, we can get better data on the staff who provide care.