Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2014 Contents DEMENTIA BEYOND DRUGS
Changing the Culture of Care
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THE INCREASING CULTURAL diversity of
the residential aged care workforce presents
unique benefits and opportunities, such as
enhanced care for CALD seniors, but it may
also bring management challenges, an expert
will tell an upcoming conference.
The proportion of the residential aged care
workforce that is made up of migrant workers
is now 36 per cent, which is higher than other
industries but similar to the broader health
and community services sector.
Sociologist and co-author of the National
Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey
Debra King said that while the growth
of migrant workers in aged care is often
appreciated, managers require skills in
managing a diverse workforce.
Dr King, who is the Dean of the School of
Social and Policy Studies at Flinders University,
said while a "reasonable proportion of migrants"
in the aged care workforce was first noted in the
2003 census, the last census in 2012 identified
the growth of migrants from Asia in particular.
Dr King and her co-authors surveyed 100
residential providers in 2007 to gain a deeper
understanding of their workforces and the
proportion of migrant workers.
With regards to feedback from providers,
Dr King said a greater proportion talked
about benefits of having migrant workers,
rather than problems. "Benefits were around
increased cultural diversity and connecting
with communities. Some of the problems were
around communication, particularly for older
people who have dementia because often
they revert back to their primary language.
That's an issue if you have a carer and English
is their second language."
She said there were also potential
cultural differences which needed to be
negotiated. "If you are from India there is
hardly any residential aged care facilities,
so there's no cultural context within which
to place nursing homes. They may not
understand how you deal with old people in
an institutional framework."
GROWTH IN RESIDENTIAL
Dr King said further research was needed to
determine why more migrants were working in
residential than in community care. However,
she speculated it could be because there
was more "ethnic matching" of client and
carer in community care, and as most of the
current cohort of CALD seniors were from
backgrounds such as Italy and Turkey there
was a mismatch with the new migrant groups
which were predominantly Asian.
"Also I think residential aged care has
conditions that migrants look for. It provides
more structure in the sense there are more
regular hours, better training opportunities,
and clear supervision, so there is someone
there they can ask a question of," she said. n
Debra King is speaking at the 2014 Cultural
Diversity in Ageing Conference, which
takes place from 12-13 June at Melbourne
Convention Centre. Go to: culturaldiversity.
Dr Debra King
Managing the culturally
An increasing number of migrant workers
in residential aged care present both
opportunities and challenges, an upcoming
event will hear.
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