Aged care workers need a strong connection with residents to be able to deliver high-quality care, an aged care executive tells Australian Ageing Agenda.
Providers also need to co-design care with residents to create a workplace culture that focuses on service delivery, said Nichole Tierney, general manager of people and culture at South Australian-based provider ACH Group.
“Ensuring a workforce is truly connected to the consumer and appreciation of each consumer as an individual is a must,” Ms Tierney told AAA ahead of her appearance at the Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce conference in Sydney next week.
“Be really clear on your customer participation framework and how you ensure consumers are co-designing services and participating in the organisation,” Ms Tierney said.
“Providers that can demonstrate how customers participate in activities, as well as co-designing services and incorporating those services as part of everyday business activities, will naturally create a culture that focuses on service delivery and high-quality care,” Ms Tierney said.
Ms Tierney is speaking about creating and embedding a culture that focuses on customer experiences and high-quality care at next week’s conference.
She said ACH is embracing technology to help staff better understand the needs of residents.
“We are focusing on automation currently and then we will mature further into using more technology, however not at the expense of the human connection,” Ms Tierney said.
“Our priority is to ensure we are focused on the human connection in the first instance,” she said.
ACH Group has also implemented a strategy that aims for all its residents to have an experience they rate 10 out of 10, Ms Tierney said.
One of its initiatives includes a trial of empathy suits, which allows staff to experience what it is like for residents living with disabilities (read more here).
“Our approach to this is to have our workforce experience the challenges through three different physical activities that include walking, sitting and standing and picking up an object, all whilst wearing an empathy suit,” Ms Tierney said.
She said the initiative has resulted in staff providing better care for residents.
“Written reflections demonstrate how the training has changed thinking from being task-focused to having greater appreciation for the consumer and their lived experiences,” Ms Tierney said.
While technology has a place, Ms Tierney said it was important not to get distracted by artificial intelligence and machine learning when thinking about ways to connect staff and residents.
“It is important to stay focused on the human connection; aware that each individual has individual needs,” she said.
The Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce conference will take place at the Sydney Harbour Marriott 4-5 June.
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