Jan 19, 2017

Aged Care Homes Hiring Staff Lacking Basic Skills

It’s become a problem in the aged care industry that many newly hired staff lack the basic skills that are required of their job. Personal care workers make up more than 60 per cent of the aged care workforce. Though many are excellent staff who are good at their jobs, some workers have been found to speak limited English and cannot read medication charts. Others don’t have the training in feeding and bathing.

An Employment Department survey found that one in eight aged care employers said that training graduates had “insufficient experience, inadequate communication or teamwork skills’’.

The problem seems to lie in the short courses that are being offered. Some workers are getting their Certificate III in a mere 6 weeks.

In late November, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) revealed that one in four aged care trainers has failed audits in the past three years.

Some of the short courses have student attendance as optional except for one mandatory first aid course, and instead have the trainers give students workbooks to complete.

These courses lack in practical training.

ASQA also found that 21 training colleges had their registration revoked or suspended over the past three years.

It is clear that the improvement of the quality of staff begins with the training facilities – if there are better courses with stricter standards and more practical coursework, there will be better graduates.

To combat that large amount of low-quality graduates, The Salvation Army is now considering “cultural intelligence’’ training for its aged care staff. Part of this training is to teach them about “emotional intelligence, social inclusion and boundaries’’ when working in aged care.

There is currently no regulatory body for personal carers. Nurses, in contrast, have the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Nurses are obligated to meet a minimum of 20 hours of continuing professional development. Registered nurses are required to complete a three-year bachelor degree at university and enrolled nurses complete an 18-month diploma – a stark difference to the minimum training requirements of a personal care worker.

In the past few years there has been a high demand for aged care staff, which is why so many poorly trained graduates have been able to secure a job. And with funding being an issue, they are often the most feasible option.

A facility manager told HelloCare that part of the challenge they face is that “despite the large pool of graduates, often we find when they come to work for us they don’t have the prior skill and training that we would expect.”

“If we don’t employ them, often the only other option is using costly agency staff. So instead they are forced hire the under qualified staff in the hope that they can be trained to be better”.

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  1. As a teacher of Aged care staff I am appalled at the lack of training some training organisations provide our student have access to a fully equipped Lab where all practical skills that they require are taught they have face to face teaching for 12hrs a week for 5months and supervised practical placements of 120hrs. I believe anything less puts our aged population at risk. Training providers who handing out certificates to people who have only done online courses and their practical demonstration of taking observation was signed off by a one off attempt in from of the local pharmacist as I have had a told to me by a student who studied on line should be removed from the aged care training arena.

  2. I walked in on two staff members lifting my mum in a hoist. My mother 90 was crying. They had the straps under her knees and the torso strap was up high under her armpits. I am not trained but even I could see she was in pain as she has severe arthritis in her knees, shoulders and most joints in her body. I demanded that they put her down and re adjust the harness which they reluctantly did. I reported the incident to management and all staff were then required to do a manual lifting PD. I should not have had to complain about this. This should be one of the main things they are taught. At another nursing home a PC putting pressure stockings on my mum, grabbed a handful of skin and ripped a piece of skin the size of a large orange from the side of her leg. Whilst it was reattached by a plastic surgeon it did not take, probably due to the length of time between when it happened and the doctor seeing it. 6 mths of dressings by a Div 1 RDNS nurse before it was healed but with a nasty scar. Again that should not have happened. Numerous times I’ve been called to say my mother has fallen out of bed. Why? Because the bed was not put to the floor before they left the room. Again, should not be happening, it is basic care. Leaving the room when the resident is blind and bed ridden and not leaving her with all her necessities, (including her water jug and glass) close at hand on her tray table and the call bell where she can reach it is just being slack! They should be being cared for by properly trained nurses who can pick up that a person may have a urine tract infection by smell, sight and behaviour. A trained nurse who knows that dehydration in the elderly is preventable with the right care, falls are preventable. PCA’s who stand around at the nurses station loudly chatting about their weekends when they’re supposed to be doing handover are not professional. Being told that you will just have to wait to go to the toilet is undignified, cruel and unprofessional. Not having a proper resident/nurse ratio for the care of the elderly should be illegal. Why aren’t more people upset about this? The majority of people will need care when they get older, this will effect most people eventually! We don’t do it to children why are we doing it to the elderly?

    1. It is impossible to teach common sense, when common sense “should” be a natural instinct for everyone, particularly those in any form of the medical profession!!

  3. What ARE the minimum training requirements of a personal care worker? I can’t find anything that indicates there is a minimum length of study or hours of placement required, or even a qualification at all. In SA the expectation is Certificate 3 from my experience (2 years of applying for residential care jobs) but recently a care worker who was accused of a serious offense was revealed to have been working for a home for 8 years without any certificate. So I tried to research it for myself, to no avail.

  4. They go on about age care , why is no one going on about the carers at home that have no trianing at all looking after the elderly maybe they need to look into this before running down age care staff

  5. I was fortunate to gain my Cert III under instruction from an excellent educator (RN and ex-Carer) who ensured that assignments were completed satisfactorily. I was also fortunate to gain employment soon after finishing my student placement.
    I made it clear to everyone I worked with that I was very new to the industry and that I would need and appreciate guidance from them. A few colleagues mentored me. Most did not.
    Even when experienced, if new to a facility, it is of no use for a colleague to tell you to ‘ do the 1 assists’ when you have no idea which residents are 1 assist. Read the care plans? Who has time?
    I think that facilities need to appoint suitable Senior Carers to mentor and assess new staff. Some skulls can only be gained once in the workforce.

  6. I spent a whole year training to be an assistant in nursing before gaining my certificate.We learnt everything from hoist to wheelchair.One session we did we had to put on incontinence pads for the morning so we could gain insight into how others feel with them on.We also had to feed one another and do so correctly.We had an R.N for all our training.We did a lot of practical even role playing.The course is too short,maybe we need to modify the old E.N course and put the training back into,if possible the R.N hands.The trainers themselves need to have working experience in aged care We need more stringent guidelines and safeguards for all care workers.

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