Given the current state of the aged care sector, there are very few elements within the industry that will be able to avoid scrutiny. Aged care facilities have been thrust into the spotlight recently, on the back of numerous abuse scandals and investigations.
Despite the horrific nature of some of the incidents that we see, the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of aged care employees are hard working people who endeavour to do their best for the people in their care.
The majority of workplace failings that you see within the aged care sector are the results of a lack of staffing that manifests into employees being unable to give the appropriate level of care.
This absence of staffing is generally the outcome of a lack of funding to pay for more staff, or in some cases, a lack of staff who are capable of doing the job required.
Caring for a vulnerable person is one of the few employment opportunities that can’t be simply looked at as a job.
The level of trust that should be required when entrusting somebody with a task of this magnitude, dictates that the person who does the job should possess the character and empathy required to put their skills to best use.
While the character and personality traits of an aged care worker are vital to their job, the skills and practices put in place from the start are indicative of the trajectory of their career.
Those who train complacent, remain complacent, and those who learn things the right way, generally get the best results.
Peter Kyriacou, Director of the Institute of Tertiary & Higher Education Australia, otherwise known as ITHEA, has implemented training programs that have readied thousands of aged care employees for the workforce.
He believes that high level care is the result of high level training over a sustained period of time.
“It takes a long time to form habits. And some of the situations that people find themselves in within an aged care environment call for quick and immediate action. You shouldn’t have to think about what you need to do, It needs to become an instinct,” he said.
“These instincts need to be correct though, and the only way that happens is by receiving training from people who have years of experience actually doing the work that you are training do. You don’t need trainers who learned about the work, you need good workers who learned how to train.”
There are currently 3.7 million people over the age of 65 in Australia which equates to roughly one out of every seven people. This number and the proportion of older Australians is expected to continue growing, and by 2097, it is projected that one in every four people will actually be over the age of 65.
This rapidly aging population will require a workforce that can facilitate demand and is capable of dealing with the strain that these numbers will put on facilities. Meaning that workers will have to be better than ever.
Mr Kyriacou believes that the length of training is pivotal to ensuring that aged care employees are properly equipped to deal with the challenges that they may face, and that industry training shortcuts play a big role in substandard care.
“People should have at least one year worth of training under their belt in order to work in the industry, and even though this is a widely held belief, there are people who have found loopholes to speed up the training process. This might give a facility access to employees quicker, but it is definitely not in the best interest of the people receiving care,” he said.
As the need for employees grows, making high level training courses financially accessible must become a priority if Australians are interested in improving the quality of aged care services for the future.
Peter believes that government funded courses available at institutions like ITHEA will play a pivotal role in this process.
“This industry needs workers. We just need to make sure that they have right level of training and that current workers are upskilled appropriately. Here at ITHEA we are proud to boast full length training courses that are being taught by industry veterans, and this is the level of training that everyone should want for aged care workers,” said Peter.l
“These courses deliver nationally accredited qualifications and are financially accessible for pretty much anyone looking to enter the aged care sector. We actually have courses that are valued at over $10,000 that merely require a fee of $200 for eligible students. And most importantly it’s quality training.”
The aged care industry needs as many thoroughly skilled individuals walking through facility corridors as it can get it’s hands on.
Making quality training programs readily accessible to all Australians will play a big part in planning for everyone’s future.
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