A West Australian aged care provider has trained more than 65 staff members for a specialised surge workforce as part of ongoing  pandemic preparedness.

Brightwater Care Group staff across all areas including enrolled and registered nurses, personal care and disability support workers and hotel services took part in a five-week training program.

The program involved specialised training in crisis management, leadership, clinical areas and was on top of COVID-19 training provided to all staff.

The team, who volunteered to be part of the surge workforce, also took part in a live outbreak scenario involving actors so staff could put learnings into practice.

Brightwater Care Group CEO Jennifer Lawrence said the surge team was ready to be deployed at any of Brightwater’s 22 residential aged care sites in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“This additional training has consolidated our organisations capability in case of an outbreak. Our staff have already gone through site based practical outbreak scenario exercises and this additional training adds an extra layer of confidence and preparedness,” Ms Lawrence told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“They have responded really well to the training and feedback from all the team members has been extremely positive,” she said.

“Our surge team are now leaders in our organisation and have been sharing what they have learnt with colleagues and championing our COVID-19 response across the organisation,” Ms Lawrence said.

Jennifer Lawrence (centre) with members of Brightwater’s surge team

The surge team will participate in ongoing training, she said.

“The team will continue to develop their skills through further clinical training and additional outbreak exercises.”

Ms Lawrence said the surge team was an important step in Brightwater’s pandemic response.

“For the last eight months we have continued to refine our pandemic response and preparations. The surge team is an important next step in the plan,” she said.

“We know from watching outbreaks in other states that residential facilities could be sending whole teams of staff home in the event of an outbreak.”

Ms Lawrence said they would recruit additional surge team members next year.

“The more staff members who undertake this training, the more prepared we are in the event of an outbreak.”

The surge team training has become an integral part to our ongoing COVID-19 response,” she said.

Ms Lawrence said Brightwater’s dedicated pandemic response and emergency response teams continue to meet multiple times a week to develop the organisation’s strategic and operational outbreak plan.

“Brightwater is maintaining a proactive approach in our response to COVID-19, with ongoing infection control training, on-site outbreak scenario exercises, training in the correct use of PPE and paid pandemic leave for any staff who are unwell and awaiting a COVID-19 test result.”

Brightwater’s surge team training was delivered in collaboration with global crisis leaders Mettle, leadership coaching organisation Verasion, aged care and registered training organisation Amana Living, aged care provider Bethanie Group and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi. This is a really fantastic initiative! I commend Brightwater and Jennifer for this innovative and pro active approach in their preparedness. I was deployed from QLD to a COVID struck facility as a NUM and understand first hand exactly what it is like to be at the coal face. I have almost completed writing an extensive online COVID learning module for Nurses at the coal face. This is not a repetition of IPC practices, rather an actual evidence based guide to nursing and protecting our vulnerable elderly residents, complete with symptom management interventions. This is not aimed at management but for those Nurses who have never experienced a COVID situation before. I would be most grateful for Jennifer Lawrence’s email address time see if we can collaborate on this project as I see my module adding great value to this initiative. With thank, Liz Shipsey – ASPEN CFR

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