Jul 14, 2023

Human Rights Commission wants providers to roll out ageism training for workers

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Studies have linked those who experience or internalise ageist attitudes with shorter lifespans, reduced quality of life, and physical and mental health conditions. [Source: Shutterstock]

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is calling for all workers that provide a service to older people – particularly those providing community services and aged care – to receive ageism training.

Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner has called on aged care providers to deliver ageism awareness training to their staff, with new research showing it can be highly effective in shifting attitudes.

The AHRC surveyed workers before and after undertaking a training session, which covered several topics relating to ageism aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief, one-off educational intervention in reducing ageist attitudes among workers in aged care and community settings. 

329 aged care and community workers participated in the research by doing at least one survey.

The results found that:

  • 90% had rethought the way they communicate with older people
  • 87% had discussed ageism with others, 86% actively considered actions they could take to address ageist attitudes in their workplace
  • 82% reconsidered their attitudes towards ageing

In follow-up surveys, some of the aged care and community workers said the training encouraged them to be more consultative when working with older people.

Age Discrimination Commissioner, Doctor Kay Patterson, said the surveys provided evidence that Governments and providers could make moves to tackle ageist attitudes.

She said that aged care and community workers did not have explicitly negative views of older people, but they did endorse more subtle ageist beliefs, for example perceiving older people as being in need of assistance and experiencing physical and cognitive decline. 

“Though they may be well-intentioned, such attitudes can lead to patronising and paternalistic treatment of older adults… [And] these attitudes by aged care workers can lead to not taking older people seriously or missing the signs for underlying health problems,” Dr Patterson explained.

Find out more on the AHRC website.

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