Collaborative Team of Four Aged Care Providers - Win LASA “Team Award”
CEO’s from Princes Court Homes (Mildura), Chaffey Aged Care (Merbein), Jacaranda Village (Red Cliffs) and Murray House (Wentworth), four not for profit aged care facilities are collaborating as a team to enhance outcomes for the lives of older people in North West Victoria. Together, the four organisations provide aged care services to 325 residents, contribute over $25 million to the economy and employ nearly 400 staff.
The four not for profit aged care providers were the proud co-recipients of the LASA “Team Award” at the recent VIC/TAS LASA Excellence in Age Services Awards. The award recognises a team, working within the age services sector that has created an environment that encourages workplace diversity, positive workplace culture and increased staff wellbeing through development of a service or process or has used innovation and initiative to improve the lives of older people and improve the age services experience. The CEO’s worked collaboratively to develop initiatives that focused on enhancing the lives of older people in North West Victoria and the capacity of the workforce. This included a successful partnership with Sunraysia Institute of TAFE to provide leadership training opportunities for staff which is fostering new leaders and promoting a culture of sharing knowledge to improve care.
Why we decided to collaborate?
The organisation’s recognised they all struggle with the same concerns in accessing qualified and capable staff in a regional locality with evident skills shortages, procurement and service costs and low ACFI (substantially beneath industry benchmarks for rural aged care providers) and an inability to access higher value RAD’s, due to factors including regional economic performance and lower median home values which for most residents impacts their ability to afford the higher RAD’s.
Rather than services competing against each other for scarce resources, the four services recognised that, as we all live in a rural community where there is a growing elderly population, often without families close by - that they needed to work together in a collegiate way to improve outcomes for our elderly, organisations and community.
Through adopting geographic clustering principles (Michael Porter), the aged care facilities have increased communication, collaboration and built collegiate alliances. Formal links have been established with Education Providers and a University Research Facility to enhance workforce skills, and develop competitive advantage.
The CEO’s meet on a regular basis and action has been taken to improve relationships with supply chain partners. The success of this has seen reduced costs, better product pricing and economies of scale. Additional benefits have included improved workforce and leadership capability, improved organisational culture and staff wellbeing.
Enhancing the Capacity of the Workforce:
The CEO’s determined that the capacity of the aged care workforce across the district needed to increase to ensure the organisations can provide the aged care services needed for older Australians in the region.
With new Aged Care Quality Standards being implemented, the CEO’s understood that staff in addition to caring for the elderly and ensuring their immediate care and health needs are met, needed more emotional intelligence and social skills to be able to provide person centered aged care, underpinned by empathy. The CEO’s also recognised that residents would benefit from enhancing staff capacity to develop relationships based on compassion and a genuine interest in the lives of the elderly residents in their care.
The CEO’s recognised that the aged care workforce pool in the region is based largely on individuals with a lower education attainment (often at certificate level or below), with many from low socio-economic demographic.
The four CEO’s determined that a top down approach to leadership was needed and by training the staff in management roles then a multiplier effect will occur with benefits across the whole of each organisation. Many of these staff have high level skills in traditional clinical or technical areas but did not necessarily have the leadership skills needed to lead teams which could meet operational and industrial requirements, communicate with families in line with current standards or manage processes and resources successfully. These skill sets were viewed as vital in providing quality health care and ensuring staff have the required skills and ability to lead and influence others.
Sunraysia Institute of TAFE Leadership Training Initiative:
A partnership with Sunraysia Institute of TAFE (SuniTafe) together with a successful funding application through Department of Education, enabled Certificate IV in Leadership and Management to be provided and delivered on site within the respective aged care facilities for a group of 17 Staff including staff from the domains of Nursing, Leisure and Lifestyle, Maintenance, Hospitality Services and Administration. 17 Participants have completed the first intake for this course and a second intake of 15 participants has commenced. Measurable positive impacts on leadership and staff morale have been observed and are directly attributed to the success of this partnership and project.
The CEO’s have driven the initiatives at an organisational level and promoted opportunities for staff to foster an interorganisational culture of working together and sharing knowledge with other collegiate organisations.
Key Benefits of the Training Program:
The CEO’s provided clear direction on what subjects were important to be included in the program. It was considered that clearly understood skill levels and approaches to leadership would ensure a consistent, ethical approach to decision making across the sector thereby enhancing all interactions with all key stakeholders including staff, residents and their families, irrespective of which residential services they lived.
The additional benefits flowing from the interaction and ongoing transfer of knowledge between the participants involved and organisations is invaluable to the local aged community and their families.
Given the collective approach, the organisations have been able to deliver a course and achieve meaningful staff development in an innovative and effective manner ensuring that staff across the local aged care health sector have developed a common understanding of leadership and importance of person centre care.
Jacaranda Village has seen an increase in staff filling incident reports and feedback forms from participants of the course which directly relates to their confidence from having completed the course. Chaffey Aged Care has seen an increase in quality projects, employee behaviours more consistent with organisational values and an improvement in leadership across multiple domains of the business.
Outcomes & Beyond the Training:
The collaborative training undertaken by the four aged care facilities is very innovative and it is hoped that the initiative will be duplicated in other regions. As the program was focussed on what was required to lead aged care teams in the future.
In addition to the program, staff were required to utilise the skills gained within the organisation by the completion of a project that would add value to the aged care provider involved.
Examples of the projects from Group 1 include:
- Trialling the use of a new lotion for palliative care patients and assessing its benefits.
- Investigating combi-regeneration cooking methods (Cook - Chill Processes) to improve kitchen productivity and enhance choice and meal options for residents.
- Development of a whole-of-business approach for settling in new residents where all needs are considered.
Other outcomes from the first group for Princes Court has seen three of the six participants have advanced to higher roles given the additional confidence and knowledge gained through the program. Two staff from Jacaranda Village have gone on to enrol in higher studies.
One candidate is using the learnings of this program to extend her skills and will enrol as a Registered Nurse in order to gain a greater understanding and contextualise her own leadership for the benefit of her team.
All CEO’s believe that the program has improved soft skills such as empathy and collaboration between staff to a much higher level than previous. The participants across all centres and multi-disciplinary will continue to network outside of the training program.