While the new Aged Care Quality Standards having commenced in July 2019, many aged care providers are grappling with the ongoing evaluation these Standards require.
Though workforce is prevalent throughout all 8 Standards, a skilled and qualified workforce is specifically required by Standard 7- Human resources. The consumer will be asked if: ‘I get quality care and services when I need them from people who are knowledgeable, capable and caring.’
“Workforce is really quite pinnacle to the experience consumers have of aged care. More than three quarters tell us that the capabilities and the sensibilities of the workforce and consistency and reliability of experience that they have is quite critical to their experience of quality aged care. For them, workforce is a key component of aged care,” says Ian Yates, CEO of COTA.
The aged care workforce has been flagged as one of the biggest challenges facing the sector, warranting the delivery of Australia’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy last year. The strategy aimed to address some of the pain points providers are experiencing in ensuring a consistent, high quality workforce including training and skills, career pathways, recruitment and retention strategies.
The sector, though, is still facing a deficit of skilled, passionate workers.
“We have 350,000 workers now but we need many many more given the growth that we’re going to see in the numbers of people who will need support.” Pat Sparrow, CEO of ACSA.
“As I travel around the country talking to aged care providers, there are two things they say keep them awake at night. One is funding and sustainability of the services, but the one that’s always talked about is the workforce- how we strengthen the workforce of the future, how we attract the workforce of the future.”
What does Standard 7 mean for provider leadership?
Providers must have a workforce that is sufficient, skilled and qualified to provide safe, respectful and quality care services. The people should be knowledge, capable and caring.
To maximise your workforce’s skills and capability, organisations can:
- Maintain a central register of all licences, skills and competencies
Being able to demonstrate the core competencies of your staff is important to ensuring compliance with the Standards. With thorough record keeping, you can identify gaps in skill areas and take the necessary steps to rectify areas in need of improvement.
- Include diversity and inclusion/ cultural sensitivity training as part of your onboarding strategy
Australia’s diverse population demands aged care facilities which are equipped to provide culturally sensitive care. Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care supports providers in delivering culturally appropriate care to older people from CALD communities.
- Invest in a Learning Management System to deliver role-based learning
A virtual course library can provide access to regularly updated eLearning courses which allows staff to drive their own development. Available topics include business ethics, corporate governance and risk management.
- Facilitate a culture of feedback to encourage development conversations
Also required by Standard 6, a culture of transparency empowers individuals to provide both positive and negative feedback, thus engaging them in service improvement. It’s equally important to act on feedback and embed a formalised review process.
It is crucial for organisations to think not just about growth in the context of numbers, but growth in terms of strengthening and maturing current teams along with their levels of trust and engagement.
With the Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report due at the end of October, it’s vital organisations empower their staff with the relevant information to be at the forefront of care excellence.
“The challenges of attracting a workforce and retaining a workforce, the challenge of building career pathways, are really important components of what will be the post Royal Commission era and workforce is critical to that,” Mr Yates said.
The Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce conference is running in Melbourne for the first time on 3 – 5 December 2019. The event brings together residential aged care providers and home care providers to discuss how the aged care workforce can be grown and strengthened to meet the increased demands.
This conference will delve into the biggest challenges facing the aged care workforce, recruitment and retention, fostering a customer-centric organisational culture and upskilling the workforce to deliver a consistently high quality of care.