Humans are naturally curious creatures who want to learn and develop. We crave being challenged – intellectually and physically – and to feel like we are moving forwards. Training and development in a role, therefore, is important in any industry. It’s the foundation for keeping staff loyal, motivated and efficient in their roles.
In some industries, staff training and development is mandatory for compliance with industry standards. This is true for the aged care sector. Keeping staff well-trained in this industry ensures that Australia’s ageing population will continue to receive the best in care and support services.
Challenges the industry faces
In general, the aged care workforce is appropriately skilled and dedicated to their roles of caring. However, due to variable quality of training across the board, some workers have insufficient skills. This needs to be addressed.
With an approaching grey population, the standard of care is at risk of slipping. Aged care workers need to be adequately skilled and trained to support a larger volume of older residents entering their facilities. Not only is there going to be an increase in the number of people requiring care but also a spike in people living with complex age-related conditions, such as dementia, that require specialist care requirements. Ensuring that aged care workers have the skills and willingness to deliver high-quality care for certain medical conditions will be fundamental in delivering overall care to an ageing population.
Adding to this challenge is the reality that staff turnover in the aged care sector is much higher than in most other industries – and the pool of skilled workers to recruit from is small. In general, an environment that encourages learning and development and supports continuous training not only attracts new staff members, but also promotes a positive, motivated and committed workforce who are more likely to stay loyal to the facility in which they work.
It is clear that investment in staff training and development in aged care is needed; but finding the time and resources to make an investment such as this is a major barrier in itself. The reality is that many providers are already operating in a revenue-constrained environment where resources are stretched to capacity. Asking them to invest more into the training and development of their staff is easier said than done.
Let’s train staff smartly
First and foremost, aged care facilities must be dedicated to developing career paths for their staff. A commitment to staff training and development can result in increased knowledge, skills, productivity and loyalty in the aged care workforce. This will also allow care providers to offer much more attractive career opportunities to potential new candidates, which is a very powerful promise in a small labour pool where skilled and qualified staff are highly sought-after.
In addition, many aged care facilities are now recognising the need to implement technology to assist with staff learning, training and development. When we think about staff training, we may automatically imagine traditional models of learning that require staff to take time out of the work environment, travel offsite, visit training centres and then bring learnings back to the workplace to be applied, ultimately incurring large costs to a business. However, digital learning technology is quickly transforming the way training and development can be approached within the sector.
Methods of learning such as online e-learning courses can train many aged care workers in new tools and techniques, quickly and cost-effectively. E-books, online videos, apps, webinars, professional networking sites, video conferencing, blogs and other forms of online content are all opening up new possibilities for aged care facilities.
Further, smart phones and tablets allow care workers to learn on the go and access information as and when they need it. Digital learning and training can also allow care givers to be flexible in their learning to fit within their working hours, to learn remotely, and to revisit information at later dates.
Allowing aged care workers to practice their skills in this fashion could have huge impacts on the industry, including improved job satisfaction and reduced turnover. It will ensure that aged care facilities are set up to welcome and care for new residents and also tick that ever important compliance box.
Want to learn more about the role of technology in workforce planning? Download Synchrony Global’s whitepaper: Creating a Smarter Workforce in the Aged Care Industry though HR Technology