Volunteers are a vital part of the aged care workforce, supporting the well-being of older people in their homes and in residential settings. Volunteers need to be considered in workforce planning and not as a replacement for roles that are more appropriately done by paid staff.
Volunteering is time freely given, but enabling volunteering is not free. Like paid workers, volunteers need induction, training and ongoing management. Funding needs to be available to support volunteering programs and to comply with the Aged Care Quality Standards and legislative requirements.
In our submission, Volunteering Australia asks that the Royal Commission reflect the following principles in their final report and recommendations:
- Volunteers are an integral part of the aged care workforce.
- Effective strategic workforce planning includes volunteers.
- Volunteer and paid worker roles need to be differentiated.
- Volunteer management needs to be appropriately funded.
- The challenges facing volunteering in aged care need to be addressed.
- Older people should be supported to volunteer for as long as they are able.
If the role of volunteers is not fully and appropriately considered in how aged care should be delivered in the future, older people will not receive the care and support that they need and deserve.