The aged care sector’s first-ever leadership development strategy is on track to roll out this year with a leadership capabilities framework to be finalised in March and an online portal, workshops and webinars to follow mid-year, according to the strategy’s developers.
Some 435 aged care leaders have already registered with the strategy’s leadership project network, and other current and aspiring managers and leaders are now being encouraged to join.
As Australian Ageing Agenda reported last November, the leadership strategy was developed in a Department of Industry-funded project led by ACSA and LASA, in partnership with the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC).
Tanya Southworth, workforce development partner at CS&HISC and Diana Fitzgerald, general manager of training at LASA Victoria told the Tri-State conference in Albury on Monday that the final leadership framework would be released in March.
This would be followed by a leadership development guide, an online portal, workshops and webinars.
The strategy had several key aims:
- raise the profile of leadership in the sector
- lift the confidence, capability, flexibility and adaptability of leaders through the provision of practical future focussed development opportunities for leaders
- guide decision making concerning investment in leadership development
- make a tangible contribution to the recognition of professionals and the value of the sector as a whole.
Ms Southworth said the capabilities framework detailed what organisations had found to be effective in developing leadership capability, and clearly mapped out career pathways in the sector.
The framework was based on 18 months of consultations which included industry roundtables as well as focus groups across Australia involving organisations of all sizes and from metropolitan and rural and remote locations. Other groups such as Alzheimer’s Australia and Council on the Ageing were also consulted, she said.
Sector leaders felt aged care was the poor cousin of the healthcare system, Ms Southworth said. “They were passionate about quality of care, passionate about people they cared for, and passionate about their organisations.”
No single training program would provide the answer to the leadership challenge; rather the development of leadership capability required various activities, she said. For example, many leaders spoke about the value of mentoring and coaching, and coming together with peers who were facing similar problems and developing skills together. “That was particularly important for rural and remote managers, they felt isolated in the work they were doing,” she said.
Ms Fitzgerald said the need for the strategy was clear, with the Productivity Commission having found that the workforce need was likely to quadruple by 2050, and with no previous “serious attempt” to develop young leaders or produce a career pathway.
The timing of the strategy was critical as there was growing interest among young people in a career in aged care. She said gerontology was an increasingly popular speciality among graduating interns, while LASA Victoria’s graduate nurse program had over 500 applications for the 42 places available last year. “Young people are genuinely interested in coming to industry and making a career of it; the capability framework will operate as a guide for them,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
Those interested in joining the leadership project network, where members can get updates on the strategy and implementation and provide feedback and ideas, are encouraged to contact Ms Southworth by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).