Prospects of adopting alternative staffing methods in residential aged care in Australia

Sukkar, K 2009, Prospects of adopting alternative staffing methods in residential aged care in Australia, Professional Doctorate, Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Prospects of adopting alternative staffing methods in residential aged care in Australia
Author(s) Sukkar, K
Year 2009
Abstract The Residential Aged Care (RAC) industry is the fastest growing sector of the health care industry in Australia, particularly with the needs of people aging eighty five years and over consuming most health care services (Productivity Commission, 2006). This thesis examines the staffing efficiency challenge that is facing the RAC industry in Australia, from the facility managers' perspectives.

Staffing efficiency is a crucial component in the success of this industry that is labour intensive, delivering complex services twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week. By achieving staffing efficiencies, facility managers would minimise labour cost expenditures; thus, ensuring sustainability and growth of their organisation in the long run. The literature reviewed revealed limited number of scholarly reviews about staffing efficiencies conducted in Australia. Nevertheless, it highlighted a number of available staffing approaches available overseas which could be of promising results if they were adopted to suit the Australian industry and its operational systems.

This thesis explores the prospects of RAC facility managers adopting 'alternative' or 'new' staffing methods in their facilities as one solution for this staffing challenge. In this study, the researcher refers to alternative or new staffing methods as staffing methods that are not currently utilised in the staffing of RAC facilities in Australia.

Using an Interpretivist research paradigm, 18 semi-structured interviews were conducted with the participating RAC managers in their work environment. During the interviews, a sample alternative staffing tool, developed prior to the study, was displayed. The data generated were analysed in the context of the RAC industry's environment, operational challenges, and through the theoretical implication of neo-liberalism. This theory provided a vehicle for the analysis of the data generated on staffing within the context of Australia's current economic policies. The generated data revealed little chance of such adoption reflected in a number of findings including: 1) Participants' lack of interest in adopting alternative staffing methods despite their comments on the unsuitability of current tools. 2) Overdependence of the industry on cost cutting measures and monetary performance indicators. 3) Lack of incentives for the adoption of change and 4) Lack of preparedness of RAC facility managers for such change.

Thorough analysis of the findings revealed misinterpretation of free-market principles in the currently utilised staffing tools, which links demand of service to the number of individuals requiring care on one hand, and the supply of services available to the number of staff rostered to provide the care, on the other hand. The application of such a principle on the RAC industry is questionable, particularly with the inconsistency in the elderly residents' care needs and the staffing skill mix. A new staffing approach that uses the care required by the elderly individuals and the staffing skills available in the facilities as the basis for the demand and supply principles will provide a plausible solution for facing the staffing challenge. A joint venture between the Australian government and the RAC industry to encourage the adoption of such alternative staffing approach is the recommended way forward for improving staffing efficiencies.
Degree Professional Doctorate
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Graduate School of Business and Law
Keyword(s) Aged Care -- Australia
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Created: Mon, 29 Nov 2010, 16:09:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
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