Caring for a vulnerable person is one of the few employment opportunities that can’t be simply looked at as a job.

There is a level of trust that comes with caring for an elderly person. To maintain this trust, staff should be given every opportunity to grow and improve upon what they do.

Most people can be trained to acquire workplace skills, but it takes a genuinely empathetic and caring person to deliver the best care, which is what makes the majority of hardworking aged care staff across Australia so special – they need to be the right person, and they need the right skills.

When it comes to training people for a career in the aged care workforce, it’s fair to say that things have changed quite dramatically over the last few years.

Although there is still a focus on the written and comprehension portion of learning, training, overall it has become more immersive from a practical sense.

Training environments that accurately simulate real workplace/resident environments provide the catalyst for staff to be able to enter a real-life aged care workplace and make an immediate and positive impact.

An effective tool for understanding dementia residents is the sensory deprivation simulation, in which staff are made to wear suits with accessories that affect all of their senses – thick gloves remove the sense of fine touch, headphones blaring noise create a sense of confusion and hinder the ability to concentrate, and the use of goggles and headsets that impair vision.

These types of experiences are often humbling for students and gaining this practical sense of understanding can also bring students closer to those that they care for in the future, ultimately improving the way in which they deliver care.

It is not just clinical areas that aged care training can touch on. Learning effective leadership skills and emotional intelligence can give develop staff’s self-awareness, professionalism, and approach to challenges communicating with both residents and other staff.

‘Empathy training’ is another recent innovation in aged care education – placing students in positions of vulnerability to give them an understanding of the challenges that people in their care may be facing.

Knowing that you have the right skill set to be effective in the workplace is empowering for those just starting out in their career. Having a team of staff that feel this way is a great opportunity to create leaders within your workforce.

Vative Healthcare & Nursing Academy is one of Australia’s premier aged care training services and has provided the foundation for many of the aged care industry’s newest and brightest stars. Their CEO, Carmie Walker, sat down with HelloCare to discuss how empowering aged care staff to become leaders brings massive improvements to working environments.

“We aim to set the tone for excellence in aged care through empowering staff to make positive changes. They see issues arise every day – these issues are opportunities for improvements for not only themselves but their organisation” said Carmie.

“We recently had the pleasure of working alongside the amazing staff at Donwood who was already established as a great aged care provider in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. They came to us looking to improve upon what they do for their residents, and the first step in that process is making sure staff feel as though they have a voice.”

“You can have all the training in the world, but if you have the ability to see possible improvements but don’t feel empowered enough to implement them, you are doing both your residents and yourself a disservice.”

“We identified areas where staff could improve upon what they do, but we also nurtured their strengths and asked them for their opinions, because you don’t just tell someone to feel confident, you guide them in what they do until they feel confident within themselves.”

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Collectively, the staff at Donwood used their voice to identify 45 areas for change and improvement within their own facility, and their newfound confidence combined with the willingness of management to tackle these issues has resulted in an amazing synergy between staff and a vibrant community environment for the residents who call Donwood home.

Vative Healthcare & Nursing Academy take the guidance of their students well past the more commonly expected realms of training and education, extending their encouragement and support of students through workplace visits, phone calls and even by simply catching up for a coffee.

“Building a rapport with students outside of the classroom lets them know that you are invested in them, this helps them to understand that they play an important role and that their opinion matters, and from a trainers perspective, we get to watch them grow through the work we do, which is just as empowering for us.”

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