Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2015 Contents Jan Horsnell
After an initial four-
month pilot at a
few sites beginning
in April 2014,
Care Vic (SCCV) has rolled out a
customised psychological tool to
help attract and employ the best
staff for roles in residential and
As part of a wider recruitment
and retention strategy, SCCV
has incorporated Safeselect, a
software tool utilising a psychometric testing
base and a structured recruitment process.
It is being used by managers at all sites
for carer and nursing positions and there
are plans to extend it to other roles.
Replacing an unsuitable recruit or
taking them through the disciplinary
process is very expensive, says CEO Jan
Horsnell, but most costly is the damage
an inappropriate employee can do in their
"We are trying to ensure we get the
people who best fit the culture and the
needs of the organisation so that they can
provide the best service possible," she says.
This aim has involved putting a lot
more time, energy and structure
around the organisation's
recruitment process, says
SCCV has a centralised
recruitment process which
involves two recruitment
consultants doing the legwork
and sending a list of potentially
suitable applicants to managers,
who make the hiring decisions.
Candidates who pass the usual
telephone screening process with
the recruiters are offered the opportunity
to complete a psychometric test, or
The customised profile has been
developed and tested specifically for
people working in aged care by an
experienced psychologist working in the
field, says Horsnell.
It asks a range of questions and shows
up potential risk areas. The interview is
then structured around asking probing
questions on those risk areas.
"If for example the profile shows that
someone doesn't respond well under
pressure, it doesn't rule them out, but the
interview would include exploring how
they respond in high pressure situations,"
Following the interviews process, the
tool includes a structured procedure for
reference checking also aimed at getting
the information that relates to the job.
The implementation is still in its early days
so strong evidence of the tool's efficacy is yet
to come, but the response from managers has
been positive so far, says Horsnell, despite the
process taking them longer.
"The managers are saying we are getting
a lot better candidates, which is weeding
out some of the candidates that would have
otherwise been chosen," she says.
Even those that were cynical at the
beginning said at the three-month review
they could see value in the system, she says.
"The managers are saying that it is
saving them time because they are getting
candidates that they are quite confident in
and they can rule people out that are not
going to fit the culture of the organisation."
There is also feedback that managers are
being more discerning because of the tool.
Hooking the students
West Australian residential
and community aged care
and disability services
Care Group employed 28
workers in 2014 as a result of its multi-
disciplinary student placement program.
However, boosting Brightwater's
recruitment is a small part of the program.
It is a commitment to contribute to
tomorrow's aged care and disability
workers broadly, says CEO Dr Penny Flett.
The program, which has been running
for almost a decade, usually includes 300
to 400 student placements annually, she
says, but in 2014 involved 670 students - a
58 per cent increase on the previous year.
It involved students from five
universities, 16 VET providers and 11
high schools completing placements at
Brightwater's 13 residential aged
care facilities and its in-home
and other community-based
aged and disability services.
Students were studying
registered nursing, medicine,
therapy, speech pathology,
social work, oral health, human
resources, enrolled nursing,
Certificates III and IV in Aged
Care, Certificates III and IV in
Disability, and Certificate III
Allied Health Assistant.
Dr Flett says one of their aims is to
broaden perceptions and show that it's a
skilled, competent, and welcoming sector
that is trying to do the best for the people
that need their services.
"A number of allied health students
as they graduated from university as
and OTs have come to work
with us first. That is exciting
because it is a complete change
of attitude," she says.
Dr Flett says the program is
part of the organisation's broader
strategy to attract, retain and
develop the best workforce
possible in a shrinking context.
Brightwater became a
registered training organisation
over a decade ago in order to
enhance its own workforce and offer
training opportunities, says Dr Flett.
"We tried to develop a culture of
learning," she says. "I have a strong view
that it is important to give students,
whether they are at university or in VET
situations, the experience of being part of
a workforce or potential workforce in our
environment in aged care and disability."
In the early days, Dr Flett says
students were reluctant to attend but
after 24 hours there, their views changed.
"You start to convert people and
they talk to each other and now these
placements are highly valued both by the
training and education providers but also
by the students themselves."
The Interprofessional Education
program (IPE), which Brightwater
introduced four years ago, operates in
partnership with University of Western
Australia and Curtin University.
Last year's placements included 73 IPE
students from seven health professions
learning to gain understanding of each
other's clinical skills, while experiencing the
aged care environment.
Without IPE, students finish their
training competent in their own discipline
but they don't know much about the rest,
says Dr Flett. However, this increasingly
ageing population means working as part
of a team is absolutely crucial, she says.
Brightwater Madeley IPE Medical student.
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