A new evidence-based training program aims to support personal care assistants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to better connect with aged care recipients during everyday interactions.

The training materials have been developed from authentic interactions between highly-skilled personal care assistants from CALD backgrounds and aged care recipients.

They come from The Little Things project, which was led by the Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre in partnership with spiritual care in aged care peak body Meaningful Ageing Australia and is funded from the Victorian Government.

The aim of The Little Things project was to improve the confidence of PCAs and trainees with their communication skills, project manager Pip Mackey said.

Pip Mackey

“It was to use authentic language and use best practice communication of PCAs who are from CALD backgrounds,” Ms Mackey told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Communication is often lacking or a problem, as highlighted at the royal commission many times, Ms Mackey said.

The training kit features evidence-based intercultural language  materials including:

  • a trainer’s manual
  • participant handbooks
  • six films
  • flash cards
  • PowerPoint presentations.

The training helps staff understand polite and respectful ways to approach older people and how to better relate to the people they are caring for, Ms Mackey said.

“We find it quite endearing when someone gets the odd grammatical mistake, but if they breach the rules of what’s polite and what’s seen to be friendly and caring, then we won’t point it out and we’ll  think that person is rude. But often these people aren’t being rude.”

“This is about opening that conversation of what is a polite and friendly way to address an older person in your culture and in somebody else’s culture,” Ms Mackey said.

The training empowers PCAs to understand that communication matters when delivering care and discuss where communication hasn’t worked so well, she said.

Aged care recipients receive a more relational level of care and feel they are respected and listened to as individuals, Ms Mackey said.

The program was trialled with three Learn Local registered training organisations and aged care providers Uniting AgeWell and Arcare Aged Care.

It was evaluated by researchers led by Professor Yvonne Wells at La Trobe University.

Arcare PCAs who participated in The Little Things research

Arcare was also involved in the research and development of the program.

Arcare Aged Care special projects manager Kelly Smith said the program has delivered positive results.

“We’ve seen our team members who participated develop more confidence and awareness in the way they communicate and flourish in their work as a result of the project,” Ms Smith said.

“We have a diverse workforce. Our team members and clients come from all walks of life and The Little Things project has helped support our team and clients from all backgrounds.”

Ms Smith said she could see huge benefits in the program being implemented across all aged care facilities and in aged care Certificate III courses.

The Little Things training kit will be available to order from Friday at a starting price of $88 for shipping in June.

An online information session on the project including a preview of the training materials is taking place this Friday 22 May at 12pm AEST.

Find out more about the project here and register for the online event here.

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