Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Spt-Oct 2011 Contents they've learned how to incentivise and reward staff creatively."
While better pay can make staff a bit happier in the short term,
says Herd, simply giving people more money is not the solution.
"One, it doesn't necessarily follow that paying more money will
lead to a happier and more functional and hardworking staff; and
two, in aged care it's not an option. So we need to look at other
options aside from money; other incentives and rewards."
"Options like training and education; rewards which target the
issue of recognising them; flexible workplaces -- these are things
that can make them happier than having the money in their
pocket. And aged care really has no alternative."
Education and training is not a cliché or a platitude but is
central to successful organisations. Training, says Herd, is about
giving staff competence and confidence to handle relationships in
a highly regulated regime.
"Competence comes from knowledge and competence gives
confidence and the ability to make the right decisions. Training
staff reduces your risks."
Rewards and recognition should also be fundamental to the
"All people yearn for inspiration, corroboration and
recognition of their worth and if you don't give it
to them you will lose their mind and their body."
In the firing line for Herd is the traditional
"The problem with the duty statement
is it doesn't necessarily come with any
acknowledgement of the authority and
responsibility that goes alongside ensuring things
get done and done well.
"Duty statements tend to be a big list of tasks
that must be completed. That needs to be turned
around so that we are not 'imposing duties' on
people but 'bestowing responsibility' on them
and 'giving them authority'. Then they become
accountable for managing risks," he says.
PRAISE AND FLEXIBILITY
Simple praise and recognition also goes a long
The concept of 'risk' is an increasingly frequent topic
in aged care management circles and rightly so, says
aged care lawyer, Brian Herd.
"You have frail and incapable clients who don't
want to be there; overworked and underpaid staff; a
tsunami of compliance and regulation; the ceaseless high-wire act
of margin, mission and management....."
"And that's just within the organisation, never mind the external
factors," says Herd.
"'Virtual' care will never replace real 'human' care and when
you have humans providing services to other humans there will be
risks to humans!" Herd declares. "Risk can never be eliminated!"
Herd has been looking at aged care workplaces in the context
of risk reduction and his witty presentation on the topic at the
recent NIMAC conference (Nurses in Management in Aged Care)
drew plenty of nods and acknowledgements along with the laughs.
Herd says he wanted to look at the relationship between risk
and threats and staff but, he admits, delegates got a presentation
quite different to the one they expected.
"I live in the world of the law and I tend to have blinkers on
in seeing the legal issues. I had to go out of my way to really
look at staff as part of a presentation on risk
management. But the approach I took is more
important than the strictly legal one.
"The bottom line is that a happy, motivated
staff is less risky than an unhappy, unmotivated
staff. In aged care, a happy staff is the biggest
risk management tool you have....within the
structures and strictures and confines and
handcuffs that are imposed..."
SWIMMING, NOT SINKING
The secret of successful organisations that are
'swimming', as opposed to 'sinking', he says, is
that they have learnt four things.
"They've learnt to acknowledge and accept
that the staff is the key to their success; that
they have to live within the financial confines
of the system; that happy staff save money; and
Workforce and education
the successful workplace
If rewarding and motivating your workers seems like that extra
mile you just can't go, be warned: not having a happy, motivated,
functional staff can be a risky business, writes Keryn Curtis.
42 | SEPTEMBER -- OCTOBER 2011 | AAA
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