To ensure its service technicians could operate safely and comfortably within aged care facilities, AE Smith collaborated with a peak body to provide its staff with specialist training.
AE Smith, a major provider of air conditioning, building services and energy efficiency, had identified aged care as a market it wanted to specialise in.
But it had a problem.
Many of its young service technicians were reluctant to work in aged care, due to some stressful incidents in the past.
“We have a responsibility to our staff that they are able to operate confidently and comfortably in their workplace,” said AE Smith general manager of Western Australia, Graeme Stewart.
“Safety of our staff and the community is our number one priority, but in aged care, the usual approach to safety isn’t enough.”
The company realised it needed to increase awareness and understanding of dementia among its service technicians and educate them on appropriate responses and actions within an aged care environment.
AE Smith collaborated with LASA Victoria to provide its staff with specialist training. So far, 75 technicians have received the training.
LASA Victoria’s general manger of training, Diana Fitzgerald told the LASA National Congress this week that such training was “an innovative step for a service provider to take” and designing appropriate training was critical.
“This wasn’t the normal demographic for LASA Victoria. We were training a group of young men, external to the ‘world’ of aged care,” said Ms Fitzgerald.
The training covered key points such as understanding how dementia affects the brain, understanding the behaviour of a person with dementia and how to communicate effectively, all with the aim of increasing the empathy of the technicians working in aged care facilities.
Kane Thompson, a service technician with AE Smith, said: “If I am entering a resident’s bedroom, I knock until I get a response, then I enter the room with a smile and make a connection with the resident before I look at their air conditioner… The valuable piece of knowledge I took away from the training is that these facilities are the resident’s homes and therefor you should treat them with the respect you would like in your own home.”
Joel Tebbenhoff, a service supervisor with AE Smith, said the most valuable thing he took away from the training was “teaching yourself to put yourself in the residents’ shoes.” He said: “You are coming into their house so to speak. When I go into an aged care facility now, if I am working in a resident’s room, I actually introduce myself to the resident. Whereas before I just went to the care manager.”
In a short video played at the conference, resident liaison coordinator at Brightwater Care Group, Jennie Neilson, said a good cultural fit was vital when considering a service provider. “It’s important they have experience in working in a residential environment in an occupied site,” she said.
Click below to watch the video: