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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