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Community care offers lessons on satisfied staff


Residential aged care could look to home care for workforce strategies as a new survey finds community workers are more satisfied.

Giving personal care workers more autonomy and improving supervision on the floor could be among the strategies to boost staff satisfaction in residential aged care, new research suggests.

The analysis by Griffith University researchers found community care workers were more satisfied with their work, job supervision and colleagues than their residential counterparts.

Their findings have been published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing.

While researchers Katrina Radford and Ellen Meissner acknowledge their study is based on a small sample – a survey of 227 direct care workers across four aged care organisations – their findings echo other recent findings.

The latest Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey, released last month, similarly found slightly higher levels of job satisfaction reported by home care and home support staff.

The Griffith researchers said the finding that home care workers are more satisfied is “somewhat perplexing” given they largely work alone and at a distance from their supervisor and colleagues.

“While they check their rosters with management and administration regularly before conducting their daily tasks, the majority of the work performed in the community is done so autonomously,” they said.

The researchers suggest that the “immediate virtual support” available to home care workers – such as a phone call to a supervisor – could account for the perceived levels of support.

“This is further highlighted by the finding that supervision plays a significant role in community workers’ intentions to stay.

“Even though they are working further removed from their supervisor, the relationship with or the style of management appears to be of importance.”

As a result, the researchers argue the findings highlight the importance of training facility middle management on leadership skills.

The researchers said there is an opportunity for residential care to look to the practices in community care to improve employees’ future intentions to stay.

“This may include redesigning roles in residential care to increase autonomy, focus on inter-professional team development, improve the team culture and add more virtual supervision to improve satisfaction in these areas,” they said.

At Brightwater Care Group in Western Australia the trial of a new care approach in which care workers play a central role is resulting in improved staff satisfaction.

“The Wellbeing Mapping model places the client at the centre and enables care workers, resident and family as partners in care,” said Libby Simpson, general manager – residential at Brightwater.

“The mapping process highlights a client’s strengths, routines and preferences in the context of their current health status and physical and social environment.”

Care workers involved in the process reported feeling more valued for their part in the care team and better equipped to provide person-centred care, she said.

“In addition, staff perception of the level of organisational support rose by 39 per cent, there was no staff turnover during the pilot and there was a reduction in single days off,” said Ms Simpson.

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4 Responses to Community care offers lessons on satisfied staff

  1. M J Harker May 6, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    I recommend the researchers firstly reexamine their assumptions, and then spend time observing home care workers on the job. The home care worker is NOT alone. She is spending time with her client. We clients aren’t just objects being handled. We’re living people, with conversation, ideas, experiences. The interactions as a worker prepares breakfast, dries us off after a shower, and hauls on those bloody compression stockings, can be so fulfilling for each of us. We have a laugh. We share intimate stories. Many of us have small pets, which seek pats and play. This is far removed from a residential care situation, with workers being pushed to dash from room to room, giving each resident a shower in under 5 minutes, or getting everyone into the dining room and seated, by a particular time. I believe on the whole that home care clients like to get to know their care workers, and show interest in them; and, moreover, tend to express gratitude and pleasure that they have come to our houses that day. Climb out of that teamwork/close supervision model and you’ll see that the rewards for workers of home care employment are many and varied. I’ve been in both situations and observed the differences.

  2. Louise May 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    One of the reasons why community care workers are more satisfied than residential is the staff-to-resident ratios; they are able to spend quality time with a person, get to know the person. Ratios for are workers in residential care are shameful.
    Two care workers for up to 20 residents who require 2 people to assist them; you are given tasks to undertake in time limits – 15-20min showers, 5 min toileting regimes etc.
    These are vulnerable residents who take longer. I can only envisage that if a community client takes half an hour for a shower or more then you do not have a co-ordinator pull you up for being slow to shower a person, or face a disciplinary panel – residential sector does not take into account the resident needs.

  3. M j harker May 8, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

    Well said, Louise. Few people outside the aged care sector understand what goes on in the residential area.

  4. John May 8, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

    If the Australian taxpayer is happy to pay residential aged care staff 20 min to shower one resident then tell me who to vote for to get the additional funding passed?

    Home care is not governed by the same rules as residential care.

    If home care had to meet even a third of the compliance regulations, procedures and policies that residential care has to no home client could afford the services.

    There is no doubt that a client should be better off receiving care services in their own home than in a residential care facility if it safe for them to remain.

    Too many people are at risk in their own home at the moment because they are alone apart from the 20 minutes of care they may receive once or twice per day. What happens for the rest of the day or night if the person does not have family or loved ones close at hand?

    Residential aged care provides care 24 hours seven days a week every day of the year.

    Residential facilities are the most over regulated and governed industry in Australia. Even hospitals operate with less compliance regulations.

    There is no comparison to the care a resident receives in home care to residential aged care.

    Both services are paid out of the same funding yet the compliance regulations and client expectations are nowhere close to being the same.

    People receiving home care packages should receive the same professional care as in residential aged care, and home care providers should have to meet the same standards and compliance regulations that residential aged care providers do.

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