Aged care staff want dementia-specific education to provide better care for residents, but many of them report barriers to accessing it, a conference on aged care research has heard.
Deakin University professor in nursing Professor Alison Hutchinson told the Australian Association of Gerontology Conference on Thursday that a lack of time during work hours and education provided far from their job were the top two barriers identified in her research.
The study examined the motivators, enablers and barriers for completing dementia-specific education and training among 179 staff members across nursing, care, allied health, lifestyle, environmental and administration roles from 36 aged care facilities in Victoria.
The study found the workers’ top motivators for undertaking dementia-specific education were to provide better care to residents (79 per cent), improve skills for their current job (79 per cent) and improve skills generally (74 per cent).
Less common motivators included to maintain professional status (50 per cent) and meet the facilities’ accreditation requirements (19 per cent).
However, only 64 per cent of participants accessed dementia-specific education and training in the past two years, with many reporting common barriers, Professor Hutchinson said.
“The two most frequently cited responses were lack of time during work shifts and provision of education at a site that was geographically distant from work,” she said.
“Other barriers that they highly cited were not having enough staff available to cover them to attend sessions, managing heavy workloads, the cost associated with education and scheduling of education at a time that seemed flexible in regard to work shifts,” she said.
The enablers of education and training include provision in the workplace or online, paid study leave, during working hours and at little of no cost to staff, the study found.
“Residential aged care staff require readily accessible education initiatives and workplace support to encourage and facilitate participation, so scheduling education at a time that they could fit around their work or in their work day, and also at times where they could have colleagues covering them [is important,” Professor Hutchinson said.
“If they needed to attend an education session, having it somewhere that was geographically easy to access was important. Online education was also seen to be a really good option because they could attend that without having to go anywhere, and they could participate at any time that suits them,” she said.
Professor Hutchinson called on aged care providers to consider these factors.
“Having employers enabling them and providing opportunities for [staff] to attend education sessions is also critical,” she said.
The AAG Conference took place as a virtual event on 18 – 20 November.
Australian Ageing Agenda is a media partner of AAG.