A new training program has been launched to equip home care workers with the skills to support culturally diverse older Australians.
Hosted by community-based, not-for-profit organisation Settlement Services International, the online program is delivered across seven e-learning modules, which can be completed on any laptop or mobile device in around 90 minutes.
The e-course content – which covers topics such as ‘what is culture’, ‘culturally responsive support’ and ‘communication’ – is aimed at new and existing home care workers who interact with clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
“The feedback from seniors is that they want access to support from carers who understand and have respect for their culture, and we know that culturally responsive care leads to better care outcomes,” said Iggy Pintado – head of SSI’s home care workforce support program.
The training program is available free to participants who are screened, supported, placed – or who may be placed – through the government-funded Home Care Workforce Support Program. There is also a flexible paid option for providers to buy licenses for workers. SSI is aiming to train an estimated 146,000 workers in 18 months through the scheme.
As well as addressing the need for practical training to respond to real-world challenges faced by home care workers, the program also responds to the Aged Care Diversity Framework, which recommends better training to support aged care providers in accommodating CALD seniors, such as those who arrived in Australia as a migrant or refugee.
SSI hopes the program will reduce barriers for seniors accessing healthcare, increase customer satisfaction and business performance for aged care providers, and improve retention of direct care workers within the short-staffed industry.
Released last year, a government white paper identified that migrant workers will be key to filling staff shortages in the aged care sector in the coming decade, with a total of 110,000 additional home care support workers needed by 2030 to meet increasing demand from Australia’s ageing population.
According to the 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 37 per cent of Australians aged 65 and over were born overseas, further emphasising the need for all workers to learn about navigating cultural contexts and nuances to avoid cultural misunderstandings in care settings.
“Aged care workers are working in culturally diverse teams and with clients from a range of backgrounds,” said Janet Irvine – SSI diversity training manager. “This e-learning will take people beyond the compliance level training to something more practical and relevant to their everyday work. They will increase awareness of how culture influences them and their work with clients and equip them with information, tools and resources to tailor the care they provide to all their clients.”