The report, Quality Jobs and Best Practice Care: Improving Homecare Staff Engagement Within a Consumer Directed Care Environment, was undertaken by The Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise at the University of South Australia, and supported by industry super fund, HESTA.
The purpose of the study was to further confirm the critical link that exists between aged care workers engagement in their chosen job and the level of quality aged care that is produced.
This research provides insight into the experiences of home care workers and operational staff within a Consumer Directed Care model of aged care.
Anglicare Australia’s Acting Executive Director, Roland Manderson, says, “As our population ages, it’s becoming more and more important that older people get the care and support they need at home.
“But very little research has been done on the experiences of frontline, home based aged care workers. We want to use these insights to improve care for older people in the home.
“Staff told us that the best quality care is relational care. That means valuing and supporting workers, so they can support older people. And it means cutting through some of the red tape that surrounds them so they can spend more time caring for people.”
The study found that workers, who participated in the study, enjoyed their jobs and want to provide quality care to their clients.
The Consumer Directed Care model seemed to have positive feedback from participants around the flexibility, choice and autonomy available for older people.
However, they were concerned about the appropriateness of packages that some clients were receiving.
Participants in the study believe the most challenging aspect of their work involved managing the expectations of their client.
Additionally, the industry seems to be pushing workers to do more with less available time, which is a factor that has been widely recognised as adding to staff disengagement.
HESTA Chief Partnerships Officer, Neil Saxton, “As we’ve been seeing in the Royal Commission, the Aged Care sector faces an unprecedented period of change and it’s vital that the voice of those working in the sector is heard so we can ensure high quality care for older Australians.
“Our members working in aged care do amazing work every day, often in difficult circumstances. We hope research insights like these will support industry change and innovation to assist our members to improve the quality of life of their clients.”
While the Consumer Directed Care (CDC) model has shown good results, the study did find that home care within the CDC model was causing feelings of isolation and a lack of connectedness between care workers.
To counteract this, the report suggested geographic-based teams in a hub and a stronger focus on communication processes and information sharing.
Technology was also key to participants in facilitating staff engagement, improving efficiency and their capacity to provide quality care.
Mr Manderson says, “Our research also found that Consumer Directed Care models sometimes throw up their own challenges. It can be hard to balance the demand for flexibility against the need to build consistent relationships between staff and clients.
“The staff we spoke to treasure these relationships, and they are very sensitive to the needs of their clients.
“Many of them told us that they haven’t been funded to give the level of care that older people require. They want to do more, but they simply aren’t able to. That’s why we’re calling on the Government to clear the backlog of Home Care Packages – and make sure the packages that are funded meet people’s needs.
“At the end of the day, we found that frontline workers enjoyed their work and cared deeply for their clients. And that is despite the pressure of an imperfect system. Listening to their insights is critical to building a quality home care system.”
Click here to read more of the findings from the study, Quality Jobs and Best Practice Care: Improving Homecare Staff Engagement Within a Consumer Directed Care Environment.