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NT leads the way with
The Northern Territory is the first
jurisdiction in Australia to have in place a
standardised induction training program
for all new aged care employees.
The staff training program has been
piloted by the Human Services Training
Advisory Council (HSTAC) in conjunction
with local employers, and funded by the
Community Services & Health Industry
Skills Council (CSHISC).
Judith McKay, chief executive of HSTAC,
says the program aims to share the same
information and ensure consistency across aged care workplaces.
With a flexible and mobile workforce, she says providers
understand the savings that can be achieved through the
development of a common training program.
McKay says delayed access to mandatory induction training,
either in-house or through external training providers, has also
been an ongoing issue in the territory, especially in remote areas.
Sally Morris from the CSHISC says the absence of quality
and consistency in the induction training has significantly
impacted the ability of providers to effectively deliver services.
She says through the development of a NT standard, new staff
are more likely to have an increased confidence to meet the
requirements of their work.
The training program, which was piloted in Darwin and Alice
Springs, covers a range of areas including an industry overview,
workplace health and safety, safe food handling, infection control
and elder abuse.
For more information visit: www.hstac.com.au
A palliative care first
South Australia is pioneering the trial and development of
Australia's only specialist palliative care nurse practitioner
employed directly in aged care.
Peter Jenkin from Resthaven, a large SA not-for-profit
organisation, works across seven metropolitan aged care
facilities as well as a small number of community services.
He says as a permanent member of staff he is able to create
the change necessary to influence long-term outcomes.
"A lot of the education I do with staff is one-on-one and in real
time," he says, which evidence suggests is the best way to learn.
The addition of a NP to the team has contributed to more
timely access to care and a reduced reliance on stretched
specialist palliative care services. "When someone deteriorates
fairly quickly you need that responsiveness and that is something
that I can provide. It's not about substituting for a GP because
they have a very particular role. My role is really about adding
value to what they do," Jenkin tells Australian Ageing Agenda.
Managers and staff report significant improvements in the
quality of the communication with families around end-of-life care
decisions in the months and weeks prior to the death of a loved
one. Advance care plans are also consistently reviewed, he says.
Jenkin is currently in the process of conducting a formal
evaluation of his role. While he says the NP model at Resthaven
is delivering positive outcomes for both clients and staff, in the
long term the financial viability of the NP role will need to be
addressed to facilitate the wider take up of NPs in aged care.
Jenkin says access to GPs, a skilled aged care nursing
workforce and after hours support are significant challenges
to overcome. Access to state-funded specialist palliative care
services is also highly variable, which demonstrates the value of
the sector building internal capacity.
Every aged care organisation should have a clear point of
contact with a specialist palliative care service to foster better
linkages between the specialist palliative care and aged care
sectors, he says.
The funding available to care recipients on home care
packages is also insufficient, says Jenkin. "That's why
unfortunately those who are on home care packages, even at the
highest level, still end up either transitioning across to residential
care or end up in an emergency department and then frequently
die in hospital."
While he is encouraged by recent positive developments in
the education and training of aged care workers in a palliative
care approach, Jenkin says ultimately the sector needs to be
adequately resourced to deliver better quality care to clients at
the end of life.
Peter Jenkin with Resthaven Malvern resident Margaret Tuckwell.
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 21
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