Themed ITP: Workforce retention

The Knowledge and Implementation Hub has brought together information and resources to support a special themed Innovator Training Program (ITP) on innovative approaches to retain aged care workers. These resources will help ITP participants increase their awareness of what is happening and learn about new approaches to supporting and retaining staff. They can be used in conjunction with the learning materials provided by the ITP which cover more general processes around change management. 

Workforce issues have emerged as critical in aged care given increasing demand for care and services, a tightening of the labour market, and the changing shape of employment in Australia. The need for a skilled and capable workforce is articulated in Standard 7 of the current aged care standards and in Standards 2.8 and 2.9 of the proposed revised and strengthened standards.  

Finding staff is only part of the solution. Workforce retention focuses on what services and teams can do to build a culture and an environment that helps staff to continue to grow within the organisation. We need to understand how to grow our workforce, keep our teams, and help them to thrive.

Exploring workforce retention

The workforce issues in aged care are well known. Problems in attracting staff into the sector not just individual services have been widely reported. While some issues are systemic and require workforce changes across the sector, individual services can also take action in attracting and retaining staff. Taking action makes sense as your aged care staff are likely to be your largest operational costs as well as those most directly responsible for the care and experience of the older people in your care. Four key areas are addressed below.

Understanding the workforce cycle

Workforce retention focuses on what services and teams can do to build a culture and an environment that helps staff to continue to grow within the organisation. Growing and retaining your workforce can be helped by understanding the workforce cycle which goes from attracting and onboarding staff through supporting and developing staff to staff completing their employment journey.   

Workforce initiatives and supports

CEDA’s 2021 research found that Australia needed a net increase of 17,000 direct care workers per year from 2020 through to 2030. This will require change at the sector level and new ways of doing business.  Australian initiatives related to workforce growth and satisfaction can be valuable in attracting and retaining staff.  

Retention Strategies

Published research and project reports provide a range of different strategies that services can use to build a culture that supports staff and increases their commitment to the organisation. This includes how technology can support HR administration and reduce staff burden. The retention checklist is a handy guide to service options and opportunities.

Self-care and staff burnout 

The aged care workforce has been under pressure for many years. Workforce redesign has already been identified as important in helping staff to thrive. While self-care is important in supporting individual workers, staff burnout looks to the organisation’s role in reducing stress and burden.


The following resources can help you think about workforce issues and how to think about what matters to your staff and how you could help retain your staff.  

Search evidence in PubMed

If you wish to find out more about reablement in aged care, try using one of the PubMed searches below. These links (all or full text) take you to the relevant research literature in the large international PubMed database.