Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2017 Contents How can aged care providers create a learning culture
in their organisations?
learning culture is one that becomes part of the
fabric of how the organisation operates. As with
most principles of culture, the change has to start
with a commitment to the continuous development
of staff from the ver y top, which permeates into all areas of
This commitment must begin with the earliest touch
point – for example, when a potential employee comes
into contact with an organisation, through recruitment
advertising or PR activities.
Consistent communication regarding values and the
commitment to learning must continue through induction
and training. Ultimately, the long-term retention and
professional growth of a valuable staff member is at the heart
of this approach.
Ongoing learning has to be considered as an investment in
an individual’s skills, central to the retention of valuable staff,
integral to staff expertise and key for competitive positioning.
To support and encourage staff to commit to continuous
learning, you must be able to clearly and consistently answer
the question: what’s in it for me?
Professional development opportunities, career paths,
flexibility, new challenges or autonomy are just some of the
drivers to help answer this question. Understanding and
addressing the personalised and customised requirements
for keeping individuals, teams and organisations engaged is
paramount in building the workforce.
What are the key elements to a successful staff
The first step is to identify training needs at an individual
and organisational level and how they link to desired
Conducting a gap analysis can determine the training
needs and there are numerous tools available to guide this
process. The gap analysis, however, has to take into account
the current as well as developing needs of the organisation.
For example, if significant organisational change is
expected, employees need to be up-skilled in anticipation of
the future demands of the organisation.
Once the gaps are identified, the objectives of the
education program can be drafted. A useful technique is to
work backwards. Define the outcomes you are seeking to
achieve along a time continuum – say three, two and one
years – and what educational initiatives need to be in place
Next steps include aligning the course content to the
educational objectives to meet the desired milestones. A
planned approach supports the individual to develop their
professional skills and, at an aggregated level, the organisation
to develop overall.
How can providers combine online and
face-to- face learning?
Face-to-face learning has stood the test of time as an effective
means of imparting information to individuals, ensuring
that information has been internalised, and the individual
demonstrating their newly acquired skills.
However, in today’s environment of increasing demands on
providers and limited training resources, organisations must
seek ways of achieving the same or even better educational
outcomes with less.
The only way to meet these demands is through increased
efficiencies and effectiveness. A blended learning approach
combining online training with face-to-face follow-up can
prove a powerful combination.
Online learning provides an opportunity for staff to have
more time, or as much time as they need, while providing
qualitative data to manage and monitor their progression.
Face-to-Face usually denotes a set amount of time with
minimal flexibility to change but provides quantitative data,
through feedback and surveys.
Although not always logistically viable, face-to-face supports
the opportunity to connect, discuss and interact.
At ACC we don’t see online learning as replacing face-to-
face, rather one should complement the other.
Ultimately, when implemented effectively, a blended
learning program makes better use of resources, time and
budget, but most importantly supports the learning pathway
and adult learning needs of staff.
What other resources can you recommend to help
promote a learning culture?
A measure of an organisation effectively promoting a
learning culture is when employees become enquirers – in
and of themselves.
There are many and varied learning resources available
today. Industr y or advocacy groups like Alzheimer’s
Australia, Palliative Care Australia and the Australian
Pain Society all offer an expanding list of resources
that organisations or individuals can utilise to build on
knowledge in a speciality area.
Consider infographics, YouTube videos, speciality LinkedIn
and community of practice groups, field trips, conferences and
workshops in your learning and education mix.
And tap into resources from similar or other sectors to
keep it engaging and interesting. The rise of Facebook groups
like Dementia Downunder, for example, provide a window
into the lives and care of older people and their families living
Credible resources can be found online at organisations like
the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Business Review and TED videos,
just to name a few. n
DAVID CLARKE, chief executive officer at the Aged
Care Channel, answers our questions on education
and creating a learning culture in aged care.
32 | MAY–JUNE2017
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