A national aged care leadership centre should be established to drive leadership development and evaluation across the sector, according to a new report.
The centre would act as a gateway for national resources and activities on leadership and foster greater collaboration with the broader health and community services sector.
In particular, a key priority of the proposed centre would be to maintain a common set of leadership capabilities for aged care leaders.
The recommendations are contained in a strategy for aged care leadership development arising from a government-funded project led by ACSA and LASA, in partnership with the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council.
Project consultants Libby Kostromin and Greg Evans from Making Meaning developed the strategy following consultation with more than 300 aged care leaders and senior stakeholders.
The project partners are currently exploring funding options to implement the strategy’s recommendations.
Under the proposed strategy, an aged care leadership capability framework would for the first time explicitly define the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for effective leadership in aged care.
The framework would define capabilities according to three levels of leadership (frontline managers, mid-level managers and CEOs), and would be mapped to industry skill sets and qualifications.
The project report said there was an urgent need to address the quality and consistency of aged care leadership in view of rapid sector reform, workforce shortages and industry maturity.
Drawing on input from the industry, the strategy paper called for a national centre to coordinate and promote leadership initiatives within the sector including coaching and mentoring programs to support the development of key capabilities and to share resources.
“Investing in leadership development will be a waste of time and money without a centre to support, coordinate and evaluate leadership development across the aged care sector,” the report said.
Challenges for leadership development
The report also identified a number of leadership development challenges in the sector including poor retention and attraction of staff, inadequate succession planning and an over-reliance on the clinical leadership pathway. The report said many nurses who commenced their leadership roles with little or no development in leadership and management risked burnout if not properly equipped for their roles.
The perceived low status of aged care also contributed to low self-esteem among aged care leaders and an unwillingness to identify themselves as leaders, the report observed.
According to the report, capable leadership and management makes the greatest difference to the performance of multi-site providers.
The project said the best performing operators used effective leadership and management to reduce, if not eliminate, the use of agency staff and focused on retention and productivity strategies such as career development.
For more information on the Aged Care Leadership Development Project see the CS&HISC website
For a copy of the Aged Care Leadership Development Strategy contact Tanya Southworth at CS&HISC (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)