Shedding light on providers’ views of personal care worker job readiness

The quality of certificate III training has been an industry sore point for years, but new research shows facility managers have differing views on what skills and knowledge personal care workers should have coming onto the job.

The quality of certificate III training has been an industry sore point for years, but new research shows aged care managers have differing views on what skills and knowledge personal care workers should have coming onto the job.

While the debate over the quality of certificate III training in aged care continues, new research suggests that registered nurses and other supervisors have mixed views on the desired job-readiness characteristics new personal care workers should have upon course completion.

There has been five federal and state reviews into the certificate III since 2011 and the main issue that all of them identified has been the poor quality of training provided, according to Melanie Robinson, learning and business development coordinator at the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Education Centre.

Yet there had been limited research into the views of aged care providers and the broader industry with regards to the desired outcomes of training in terms of the characteristics and competencies new personal care workers should have.

At the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) national conference on Thursday, Ms Robinson shared some of the early findings from her qualitative research that explored, from an industry perspective, the characteristics of job readiness of certificate III graduates, and compared this against the regulator’s standard for the courses.

Through a series of focus groups and interviews with two large not-for-profit aged care providers, which had multiple sites in metropolitan areas, Ms Robinson heard the views of the RNs and senior clinicians who directly or indirectly supervised personal care workers, as well as new staff coming into the sector.

Eight consistent themes emerged from the participants around their expectations for personal care workers’ job readiness, Ms Robinson said. These were:

  1. Ageing context and the client group
  2. Service provision in aged care
  3. Personal care provision
  4. Diversity identity
  5. Communication strategy
  6. Safety of consumers and staff
  7. Teamwork and inter-professional roles
  8. Grief and loss, death and palliative care

In terms of which characteristics were best defined, participants were most clear on the tasks associated with the personal care worker role. Similarly, participants were very clear on safety of consumers and looking after the person’s wellbeing as a key requirement. They were also most articulate on dementia, and need for knowledge and strategies for working with someone with dementia, Ms Robinson said.

Characteristics that were somewhat less defined were participants’ expectations of what a personal care worker should know coming into their role versus what they can learn on the job. There were also variation between participants’ expectations regarding communication strategies, and death and palliative care.

Job readiness characteristics that were not clearly defined were around the ageing context and the need for the care workers to be clear on the foundations of who the client group is and their demographics. The importance of teamwork, and the inter-professional role of the personal care worker, was also less clearly defined, Ms Robinson said. Participants did not discuss the role of enrolled or registered nurses in relation to personal care worker job readiness characteristics.

Participants could not describe the “micro-tasks” associated with the personal care worker role. There was a real sense of apathy toward the workforce and the limited choice regarding new workers, and having to adapt to a transient workforce, the research shows.

Workers’ views on LGBTI clients’ needs

Elsewhere at the conference, new research into the aged care workforce has obtained the attitudes of care workers regarding ageing LGBTI people and their service needs.

Dr Deb Selway, research and project manager with integratedliving, a not-for-profit community care provider, surveyed regional aged care staff about their perceptions of ageing LGBTI clients and their care needs.

The survey and interviews with staff found that 61 per cent believed LGBTI clients’ needs would not differ from their other clients, 19 per cent felt they would and 20 per cent did not know.

Asked about their comfort level when caring for an older LGBTI person, 58 per cent of respondents said they very comfortable, 27 per cent were neither comfortable nor uncomfortable, while13 per cent said they were quite comfortable.

“Most carers in the study made positive, non-discriminatory, non-judgemental statements when asked to qualify their reasons for feeling comfortable with LGBTI clients,” the research said.

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Tags: AAG-conference, job-readiness, PCWs, training,

1 thought on “Shedding light on providers’ views of personal care worker job readiness

  1. I am not surprised by the research findings into what was well defined and what was not. The current quality expectations require the areas that are well defined, safety, dementia, personal care to be met to a high standard and to date RTOs have been focused on delivering that to varing degrees of success.

    Frequently, when speaking to RTOs who are less in touch with the industry yet offer the cert 111 qualification they are unaware of the changes occuring in resident demographics, acuity of residents etc at anything other than a marco level and the impact that CDC initiatives will have when the new qualification of Cert 111 Individualised

    They are generally focused on previously held approaches to person centred care, that relate to when residential care homes had longer length of stays in care, and not the current “churn ” with increasingly frail residents who could find traditional “recreational and personal care activities” challenging.

    Organisations who partner with RTOs and really talk about what they want for engagement from students to prospective staff have much to gain. Also the relationship between professional staff and care staff needs much attention beyond thinking about monitoring and delegation of nursing duties, particularly as most Residential Homes attract a multicultural workforce who require complex communication to achieve smooth care giving.

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