Making the transition to a career in aged care is not always easy.
At HelloCare we regularly hear from readers about training that leaves them inadequately prepared, and about a workplace culture that is less than supportive to newcomers.
With the Aged Care Workforce Taskforce estimating Australia will need one million aged care workers by 2050, what are some of the ways we can help to smooth the way for people who are keen to work in aged care?
Greater consistency required for training
Chief executive officer of Vative Healthcare, Carmie Walker, told HelloCare, some Certificate III courses do not produce ‘job ready’ graduates, so when graduates begin working they are often unprepared.
Certificate III training is also hugely inconsistent between RTOs, she said, so it can be difficult for employers to know what the skill level will be of new graduates.
Ms Walker said she’d like to see greater co-operation between RTOs so content and implementation were more consistent and predictable across the industry.
“I would like to see a more consultative process for RTOs, so we all agree this is what we teach and the way we teach it,” she said.
Ongoing support is needed
Ms Walker said staff who have completed the intensive up front Certificate III training , should be buddied with an experienced staff member inside the organisation when they start work.
But she said newly trained staff also need ongoing training, and they should be able to provide feedback once they start working.
For example, Vative Healthcare provides follow-up classes every three months for those who do the initial intensive Certificate III course. These follow-up classes provide an opportunity for students to gain extra skills and to receive mentoring, but it also allows them to discuss problems openly and find ways to work towards solutions.
It is the registered training organisation’s responsibility to make sure staff are ‘work ready’, Ms Walker said.
Culture of bullying must stop
With Australia in urgent need of more aged care workers, Ms Walker said it’s disappointing to see a culture of bullying still exists in the industry.
“We’ve got to stop the rot,” she said.
Creating a happy work culture starts with leadership, she said. When the right leadership is in place, “The air is lighter, there are smiles on faces, nothing is hard.”
If we are going to meet the future needs of the aged care workforce, we have to ensure new entrants are receiving the right training and the right support at work, and we need leaders who nurture a positive and supportive culture.
Until this happens, unfortunately our readers may continue to find the transition to working in aged care difficult, and may even make the decision to leave the industry.