Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2017 Contents Community Care Review is Australia’s magazine covering home and
community-based care and support.
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the programs and people that make up community care in Australia.
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if they do speak their language; they trust them. It ’s a smoother
journey for everyone,” she says.
When staff come from the same cultural background as the
consumer they also inherently understand that culture’s customs,
which ensures respect, says McDonald.
In addition, wherever possible, Diversicare strives to ensure
that each consumer is consistently cared for by the same home
care worker. McDonald says this means carers and consumers get
to know each other and this builds a foundation of trust where
consumers feel more comfortable talking about their individual
support requirements and lifestyle choices.
While a large proportion of Diversicare’s consumer cohort come
from European backgrounds – such as the Baltic States and the
Netherlands – increasingly those from Chinese, Vietnamese and
Indian backgrounds are also entering the service.
Ifa consumer is referred from a cultural backgroundDiversicare
doesn’t yet cater for, it will actively seekto find a staff member from that
consumer’s cultural background through its networks and communities.
For instance, this may be needed when a home care worker
shares the same language as the consumer but is of a different
nationality, for example, a Spanish consumer might receive care
from an Argentinian home care worker.
However, when required, the organisation will also train recruits
to work with consumers of different cultures.
“ We offer cultural awareness training to our staff to help them
understand how to deliver services in a culturally appropriate
manner. We also deliver cultural awareness in the workplace training
for organisations and businesses that have diverse workforces and/
or provide services to people from CALD backgrounds. ”
A CONTINUUM OF CARE
The vast majority of Diversicare’s consumers– around 1,000 people
– r e ceive subsidised funding through the Commonwealth Home
Support Program (CHSP). Diversicare also delivers Home Care
Packages to over 300 eligible consumers.
In addition, Diversicare offers a fee-for-service program where
consumers can pay for a variety of services including domestic
assistance, gardening, home maintenance and pet care.
In home support care is underpinned by a wellness philosophy
aimed at giving consumers choice, safety, consistency and
independence in their own home for as
Queensland community care provider Diversicare offers culturally-specific care to
CALD consumers of 65 different ethnic backgrounds, while also providing culturally
focused education and training to other organisations throughout the state.
Diversicare leads the way
in multicultural care
eonarda Nurzynski, 91 , and Anna Baczynski, 94, have been
friends since 1950, when both immigrated to Australia with
their families from war-torn Europe.
Leonarda and Anna’s friendship of 65 years has endured through
raising children, work, retirement and the death of their husbands.
Now, the two women continue to keep in contact through
Diversicare’s respite centr e, West End Connect. There they catch
up on each other’s news , take part in activities and crafts, and
participate in group outings.
Diversicare is the community services division of the Ethnic
Communities Council of Queensland (ECCQ), the state’s peak body
for ethnic communities and cultural diversity.
For 27 years, the multicultural organisation has delivered
direct care services to older people from both culturally and
linguistically diverse (CALD) and non CALD backgrounds
throughout southeast Queensland.
Currently, it delivers care to consumers from 65 different
backgrounds, speaking 45 different languages.
Diversicare is uniquely placed to offer multicultural services as
98 per cent of its staff are both bilingual and bicultural.
Community care coordinators, of which there are 16, are
also bilingual and bicultural. They oversee staff and consumers from
their specific cultural and linguistic group.
General Manager Vivienne McDonald
says CALD consumers often have different
needs and matching them to workers of the
same background has multiple benefits.
“ I t ’s easier to communicate. Consumers
also better accept people into their homes
and Anna Bacznski
respite centre, West
Chinese Olympics and
cultural day at West
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22 | NOVEMBER 2016
Good support workers are the
key to winning over consumers
in a deregulated consumer
directed care environment. It is vital that
providers overhaul their human resource
approaches to attract and retain talent
and empower their employees to build a
sustainable competitive advantage. The
workforce challenge for providers today
is balancing this investment against cost
competitiveness and change weariness,
while dealing with recruitment challenges
brought about by an ageing workforce,
expansion of the older population, and
disruptive e-marketplace models.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE
In the rapidly changing world of home
care, there is an increased expectation
on providers to customise services to
consumer preferences and special needs,
including various languages, cultures,
religions and lifestyle preferences. In
addition, care planning is goal-directed,
incorporating wellbeing, reablement and
In essence, this means that the role
of the support worker will transfor m into
a complex mix of a companion, personal
trainer, care specialist, cook, cleaner,
pet groomer, driver, finance assistant,
and more. Support worker s must also
understand and reflect cust omer service
values, and have the skills and autonomy
to be flexible while performing services for
However, this is easier said than done.
Support workers generally represent the
largest and lowest paid workforce in home
care. Many are casual or part-time, with
limited interaction with each other, or with
the organisation. They work when rostered
and as directed by the care coordinator,
with little input or say into how they deliver
In the face of a deregulated home care market, supporting and empowering
the direct care workforce will be more impor tant than ever, write NICKI DOYLE
and ROSHANI MANOUCHEHRI.
Some providers have also moved
down the path of brokerage to minimise
employment costs and service delivery
downtime. Increasingly, we see providers
brokering higher-end services such as
nursing and allied health. While this
strategy may deliver cost efficiencies, the
fact that the provider does not own the key
resource under this model creates risks
around quality and reliability.
This situation presents a conundrum
for providers – a logical solution would
be to invest in building a workforce with
well-trained, empowered and high quality
support workers; however, the current
focus on cost competitiveness and need
for a flexible workforce to manage demand
uncertainty in a deregulated environment
makes this a difficult decision.
Secondly, ma ny providers are dealing
with change weariness brought about by
multiple waves of reforms impacting not
just community aged care, but disability
and residential aged care. Functions
such as assessments and intakes have
been taken away from providers, while
significant new responsibilities such
as budgeting and reporting have been
added. Further changes are anticipated,
such as the tr ansfer or minimisation of
care planning and coordination, as more
customers choose to self-direct and
manage their own supports.
Thirdly, providers have to deal with the
recruitment challenge in aged care. Data
by research firm McCrindle into aged care
supply and demand shows that in March
2014, the median age for community direct
care workers was 50 years, making it the
sector with the highest median employee age
in Australia. It is anticipated that half ofthe
current home care workforce will retire in the
next 15 years. Over the next decade, providers
across Australia need to recruit an additional
650 aged care workers every month to keep
up with the ageing population, in addition
to replacing the 668 retiring staff per month.
Thiscreates an impending war for care talent,
and the need to attract younger workers.
TAKING THE FIRST STEPS
The strategic opportunity exists for providers
to build up their human resource practices
to attract and retain quality support workers.
It’s not enough to just pay a support worker
more. Strong values, flexible HR policies and
smart technology will be far more effective
and cost efficient in the long run. However,
building a great culture takes time, good
planning, vision and strong values-based
leadership. This includes:
Investment in empowering and enabling
For support workers to be responsive
to consumer needs, they must first be
empowered to do so. This requires providers
to give their support workers the right tools
and information, such as direct access to
consumer information, clear frameworks of
action, approval discretions, and escalation
points, so that a support worker can
autonomously and consistently respond
to consumer questions and requests. This
will require investment in staff training, and
a workplace culture that encourages and
rewards initiative, compassion, a spirit of
service and independence.
Building a desirable culture and identity
Employees join organisations that they
feel share their values. For example, if a
provider wishes to attract and retain flexible
and creative support workers, they in turn
should implement HR systems and tools
that feature those same qualities, such
as encouraging consumers and support
workers to collaboratively set their hours, or
encourage innovative goal setting. Similarly,
providers that wish to attract culturally
and linguistically diverse support workers
should ensure a strong culture of respect
and tolerance for various cultures, including
Celebrating the role of a support worker
Don’t just advertise your brand name or
the services you offer on your website – put
the spotlight on your support workers.
Acknowledge them for the challenging work
that they do and encourage them to shine
by capitalising on their talents, interests
and strengths. Engage with consumers to
give active feedback on their experiences
with the support workers and reward those
who do well. This will translate to loyalty
and employee satisfaction.
Strengthening your workforce with quality
support workers is vital for building
a sustainable competitive advantage,
particularly in the face of deregulation.
The disruptive e-ma rketplace models
show just how powerful a platform can be
when a support worker gets to showcase
their skills, talent s and interests; exercise
choice in consumers they wish to work
with; choose their own hours; r eceive
direct feedback on performance; and be
incentivised for it.
The portability of home care packages
from February 2017 is the next step in home
care reform. If Australia follows the path
of the United Kingdom, we may see the
direct payment of subsidies to consumers,
the implications of which are yet to be
realised. The UK model of personal budgets
puts both funds and responsibility to
employ support workers directly in the
hands of the consumer where they may
flexibly and legally employ family, friends,
neighbours or care service providers,
while a government-appointed national
organisation, HomeCareDirect, provides the
administration support and training to the
chosen individuals, such as police checks
and care planning.
If a similar model is fullyadopted in
Australia, the greatest challenge to continued
viability will not just be competition
from other providers, but also whether
organisations can deliver a consumer-centric
model and convince consumers that they
are better off choosing a provider’s support
workersinstead of someone the consumer
already knows and trusts.
Every support worker on your team has
the potential to shine. Give them the right
training, leadership and opportunity and
you may create a sustainable competitive
advantage as well as a great workplace and
service quality outcomes to remain a key
market player. n
Nicki Doyle is a director and Roshani
Manouchehri a manager with the health,
ageing and human services division at
“If a provider wishes to
attract and retain flexible
and creative suppor t
workers, they in turn
should implement HR
syste ms and tools
that feature those
aaa communitycarereview | 29
28 | NOVEMBER 2016
Trialling CDC in HACC
Empowering direct care workers
The power of singing groups
Investigating elder abuse
Highlighting housing insecurity
Creative thinking in CDC
Diversicare leads the way
in multicultural care
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