With the continuing moves towards consumer-controlled care, community care providers are intensifying the training and support provided to staff. Darragh O’Keeffe reports.
Special training modules, a network of peer support and a series of local roadshows to disseminate knowledge are among the initiatives the Benevolent Society has utilised to help its community care staff get to grips with the cultural and practical implications of the move to consumer-led care.
As part of its broader The Good Life project, which aimed to prepare the organisation for the move to CDC and greater consumer control, the Benevolent Society has implemented several initiatives that engaged staff and clients in the change management process.
Adopting a localised approach, a series of roadshows, run at each site by regional leaders, facilitated discussion and enabled frontline staff to ask questions or raise concerns they had about the new policy.
“Some people were worried about how clients were going to adapt to this new approach, and what we were going to do to help those clients get through this,” Anne Chamberlain, program development manager, community ageing and disability services, tells Community Care Review.
“We talked through a whole lot of different approaches, and we also established our client discussion group,” she says of measures to facilitate an ongoing dialogue for staff.
After the roadshows, some 25 staff members who nominated to become “staff champions” provided peer support and acted as influencers and advisors during subsequent workshops. The staff champions were also involved in developing and delivering a series of nine training modules to educate and equip staff in delivering CDC and meeting client needs and wishes.
Furthermore, a dedicated portal and email address was established so staff could send other questions or comments along the way, which were answered by members of the project team, says Chamberlain. “We also sent out regular FAQ communications to staff saying these are the questions we’ve been getting and these are our responses,” she says.
Staff surveys conducted in early 2015 showed a marked increase in staff engagement following the project. Staff members expressed satisfaction with the opportunities to have input into decision-making around the organisation’s shift to consumer-directed services.
The provider also says that the training modules were evaluated and have demonstrated success in bringing staff along with the required changes.
From cooks to carers: training all staff
The Brotherhood of St Laurence is another community aged care provider that has embedded staff training and support at the centre of its program to transition the organisation to consumer-led care.
Senior manager of community aged care Lisa Rollinson says the provider developed a “capabilities model”, which was informed by its involvement in the early trial of CDC from 2009 and by subsequent work produced by its research and policy department.
Following a pilot and evaluation, the model was rolled out across the retirement and ageing division throughout 2014, says Rollinson. “It was delivered to all staff – from PCAs and cleaners to case managers, management and coordinators,” she says.
The philosophy behind the model is a focus on building people’s capabilities, says Rollinson
“Care is just a tool for life; the focus should not be on the tool but on talking to consumers about the things in life they value and how we can use care or services to enable them to get to that point,” she says.
The capabilities model essentially flips case management on its head and aligns particularly well with consumer directed care as it is one step further to putting the consumer in total control of their care package, says Rollinson. “You have this funding attached to you [from] 2017 and we see our role as working with you to achieve your goals.”
The Brotherhood, which uses a brokerage model, had an advantage in that it had always worked from a position of offering a broad range of choice, she says. “Providing a wide range of choice was not an issue, it was more about the change in perception, flipping it over and saying the consumer is now driving their program, not necessarily the case manager.”
Staff members completed varying amounts of the training modules depending on their roles. Case managers, for example, completed three to four half-day sessions, in between which they worked in groups, says Rollinson.
“It gave them an opportunity to talk to their peers about different aspects of their practice around things such as people making choices, the dignity of risk…Being able to talk that through not only within their own group but to bring it back to the broader group as well; people found that really useful.”
Meeting 2017’s challenges
Both the Benevolent Society and the Brother of St Laurence say their staff training and support initiatives will continue, if not intensify, given the sector’s further move towards consumer-controlled care from February 2017.
Chamberlain says Benevolent Society staff are very much aware of the impending changes in 2017 and are concerned about what they will mean for clients, especially those who may experience difficulty navigating the system and exercising choice.
She cautions that when it comes to supporting staff in adapting to the changing policy and practice landscape, “training alone just doesn’t cut it.”
“There’s the old 70/ 20/10 rule in that 70 per cent of learning is from experience and only 10 per cent really comes from formal and traditional learning, so you have to have other things in place to supplement that training,” Chamberlain says, referring to the organisation’s client discussion groups, leadership development programs and coaching.
This article appears in the current edition of Community Care Review.
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