Shift predictability and mentoring part of improving jobs and care in aged care

A new research-based toolkit supporting better quality jobs for aged care workers should lead to improved client satisfaction, according to HammondCare At Home’s Western Region Head, Natalie Duggan. 

The Quality Jobs Quality Care Toolkit is designed to help aged care organisations make small changes in work practices to improve job quality and care quality.

The toolkit responds to significant growth in aged care, with providers increasingly employing a diverse workforce to provide essential services to a complex client group and looking for innovative ways to build sustainable, high-quality care services.

It was developed by lead researchers from the University of South Australia, RMIT University and Flinders University with active contributions from HammondCare and three other aged care partners – Brightwater, Helping Hand and United Voice.

“I expect the toolkit to have a positive impact on the knowledge and skill set of workers, care worker attrition, care worker confidence and helping to define career progression for care workers,” Ms Duggan said.

“This project aligned well with the HammondCare Mission – and our specific research interventions were targeted towards supporting care workers to ultimately enhance care delivery to clients with complex needs, particularly those living with dementia.

“Job quality can mean many different things. Most people agree that good quality jobs lead to better outcomes for clients, employees and their organisations.

“Organisations will benefit from the toolkits findings as to what enhances the quality of care worker jobs which in turn contributes to higher quality care and stronger professional relationships between workers and clients,” Ms Duggan said.

Research into shift predictability, mentoring

HammondCare’s contribution to research for the toolkit, included interventions focused on shift predictability and care worker mentoring. The toolkit includes findings that ‘shift predictability’ and a reduction in ‘broken shifts’ - shifts with one or more breaks - directly correlated with improvements in work-life balance and job satisfaction.

It also shows that an expanded mentoring program, based around exposure to ‘specialised care mentors’ had positive effects on worker confidence and capability, ultimately influencing the consistency and quality of care being provided.

Professor Sara Charlesworth of UniSA and RMIT said, “Direct care workers are the majority of the aged care workforce and are critical to the future of the aged care sector.

“The simple fact is that good job design and work organisation that supports team communication, problem-solving and responsiveness to clients’ needs produces more effective care and better client outcomes.”

See the toolkit at: www.qualityjobsqualitycare.com.au