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With the aged care workforce facing new challenges in learning, education and training and adapting to the ever-changing aged care work environment quickly, providers need to ensure their workforce is kept engaged, capable to sustain and grow in their roles and front footed to meet the changing demands of the aged care learning environment.  Overall, the sense of purpose in the workforce capability with learning and education will lie in that ‘aged care matters’.

The transformation of our workforce to be change agents in the age care industry can only be achieved by facing the inescapable truth on how the community views aged care and the work that is required in caring for the vulnerable population. To strengthen the capability of our workforce, we must shift the views of how the aged care workforce is to be trained, educated, and supported in their roles. How do we shift our workforce to be capable of transformational change in the aged care industry?

The workforce capability has its strength in diversity of the workforce, and the consumer expectations, yes, the diversity and consumer expectation, both are the strengthening pillars for the capabilities of the workforce to shine in their roles.

The aged care workforce can respond to the challenge faced by taking every opportunity to make themselves capable by leading and shaping the aged care industry. So, what are the steps and opportunities that will transform the workforce capability?

A successful staff orientation phase

Successful onboarding is the essential key ingredient in setting up the workforce to thrive in their role/s. The staff member’s enthusiasm and eagerness into the beginning of their work period during their orientation phase can assist them to grasp the requirements within their job description and understand their team, work environment and the aged care standards. Their successful onboarding can never be underestimated.

Additionally, support provided to the staff during this time by the team leaders and peers will set them up to succeed. Many times it is taken as the staff member will perform their job as it’s ‘straightforward and simple’. To give uncommon care requires exceptional support to staff in understanding their role, how their role can evolve with care outcomes in the resident care needs and requirements and its effect on ongoing care given to the consumer appraising against the aged care standards in every element of care though their proper onboarding as well as continuing education and training.

Moreover, when the time is taken to support the new staff and set expectations as well as when support is available to assist the staff member to understand the application of their core work, the quality of the care will be improved because it is backed by informed decision making and thoughtful best practice consideration that set the bar during their orientation phase of their employment.

Each age care standard reflects the detail application of their work of every aged care staff member, their level of understanding in their own role and how each of the standards are taken in light to make it applicable to the work the staff will be performing with a better understanding of how the aged care standard is linked to what they do perform to care for the consumer. 

Understanding how learners learn

The residential age care workforce is a younger population group, and engaging technological resources need to be tapped in that will enhance their education and learning enabling purposeful meaning in education and training.

One size cannot fit all when learning styles are different. The capability that the diverse population will bring together in how learners learn.  Finding what motivates the staff to learn and how they learn can achieve sustainable results for mandatory and other education and training.  Creating apps that qualify their roles and extend their capabilities within the aged care environment parameters will go a long way to sustain their capability and yearly competencies that seem such a chore to them.

Announcements of winners and award giving in staff meetings, newsletters and other platforms affirms recognition to the workforce boosting their confidence, encouragement and inspiration for other members of the staff to aim high in capabilities within and above and beyond their role.

Those staff that are tech savvy are given leadership opportunities in developing their own education and training teams of learning and set targets of completion to create healthy competition with best practice ways of doing their roles.

Furthermore, providing opportunities to learn in environments that complement their learning will make it more interesting and doable. Some staff may learn by asking questions, some by doing and other by repetition and yet some in groups whereas some will learn by themselves. By tapping on the workforce capability to tease out how learning happens for them, education and training can be more fun, efficient and work better in practice instead of being asked to attend sessions or complete self-directed learning packages endlessly. 

Yet another support that is often overlooked is that do the staff have a peer mentor they can go and ask a question? Is there someone they can touch base with during their workday to guide them where the policies are and what they relate to. It can be one of their own team members and does not have to be an educator or manager to support them.  Having a rapport with a team member who can support learning can go a long way to support and make staff confident that they are achieving what matters and are confident in their capability to perform their roles.

When the workforce is supported and engaged, they are set on a journey of success with what matters most and that’s the consumer is satisfied and they do achieve what they had set out to do in their role with a successful outcome.

Veronica John

Specialist Consultant

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