Upskilling staff for better outcomes

Sixteen years into her career in aged care, Care Worker Clare Alsford took the opportunity to broaden her skills under a new Uniting AgeWell program.

Uniting AgeWell introduced a unique training program to upskill existing care workers with allied health skills.

The organisation introduced Allied Health Assistant positions at Hobart aged care residences and is supporting the staff to complete a Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance.

“I thought it was an opportunity to expand my knowledge and add another feather in my cap, as far as my abilities to work across the broader spectrum of aged care,” Clare said.

The Allied Health Assistants at Mornington Community, Lillian Martin, Queenborough Rise Community and Sorell Community, Ningana, are trained to support residents with pain management through heat pack therapy or gentle massage.  

They also coordinate preventative activities like walking and exercise groups that combine social elements and prevention through physical health, and a hydrotherapy program.

“The training has certainly made me more aware of changes in residents’ physical and mental conditions and given me a lot more scope to think outside the box about their needs,” Clare said.

I think we have improved, as far as meeting residents’ emotional needs, because of the social side of the program, with hydrotherapy classes and the exercise groups.

A number of care staff were also trained in basic foot care, so they can manage minor issues and free up podiatrists to see residents with more complex needs. 

The introduction of the Allied Health Assistant role and upskilling of other care staff has resulted in several positive outcomes for residents.  The most significant improvements include a reduction in falls with injuries at both residences and a reduction in referrals to the physiotherapist for pain and mobility assessments.

Following the successful trial, the Allied Health Assistant position is being rolled out at other Uniting AgeWell residences in Tasmania.