Preparing the workforce for digitally integrated care

As the aged care landscape changes, the role of workers will need to be redefined.

When it comes to digitally enabling aged care staff, it’s important for them to know technology is just a tool, delegates were told at an industry event on Wednesday.

“It’s a tool for enablement but it shouldn’t take over the person-centred, person-focused care,” said Deidre McGill – chief executive officer home & community support at Bolton Clarke. “The savvy users of today understand that technology is an enabler.”

Ms McGill was participating in a panel discussion – Redefining the future of work and workforce in aged care – at the Australian Healthcare Week expo in Sydney.

Moderated by Natasha Egan – editor of Australian Ageing Agenda and Community Care Review – the panel discussion explored the new skills staff will need to navigate a new model of digitally integrated care.

“Digital literacy is one,” said Julianne Parkinson – chief executive officer of the Global Centre for Modern Ageing. “Tools for care delivery and administrative tasks are super important. Also data analysis – why are we gathering the data?… And how do we keep it safe for the people it’s intended for? With that comes the ethical implications of technology – including privacy concerns.”

For younger workers, digital literacy isn’t going to be an issue, said Dr Tanya Petrovich – manager innovation at Dementia Australia. “They will have it anyway because of the way they have been reared.” As for those new to certain technologies, “they need to have a growth mindset, adaptable skills,” she said.

Ms McGill told delegates that care workers will increasingly need to become familiar with telehealth. “Being able to understand the use of technology as a support for our clients. Whether it be diabetes monitoring or monitoring of blood and oxygen levels – a whole range of products that we use to support better outcomes for the client, for the consumer.”  

Making sure the workforce is skilled and capable to adapt to an ever-changing care landscape will be crucial, said Ms McGill. “That means supporting them with their continuing professional development, ensuring that you as an organisation supports that by sending people to conferences. We also have scholarship programs for personal care workers wanting to progress and undertake a nursing degree.”

The panel discussion then turned to the subject of micro-credentials – which can be attained through mini education courses in specific areas of study.

Micro-credentials are, Ms Parkinson told delegates, “the way of the future for training skilled and talented workforces.” Micro-credentials are especially beneficial for people “who don’t want to plough away for years at uni,” she said.

Whichever method providers use to upskill or reskill their staff, Ms McGill told delegates it needn’t be expensive. “There are government subsidies and a raft of opportunities to learn through many, many platforms,” she said. “So organisations really need to get their head around what’s available – what’s free, what’s online, what they want to prioritise and what they need their employees to actually be skilled in.”

She added: “It is a real benefit for every organisation to upskill their workforce because that’s where their value is.”

AAA is a media partner of Australian Healthcare Week 2024

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Tags: AHW 2024, australian healthcare week, bolton clarke, Deidre McGill, dr tanya petrovich, Julianne Parkinson,

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