Future skills for aged care staff

Last night I went to the launch of the Australian Technology Network of Universities Future Skills Series at QUT Brisbane. Speakers discussed future learning, capabilities for future career success, internal entrepreneurialism and designing your life by Kaizen.

I reflected on staff skill-building and knowledge transfer for aged care staff, particularly catering staff. Many caring, dedicated staff I work with have been in their role for 10, 20, 25 years. They love their residents and have deep knowledge of their preferences. When I ask staff and management about what training they do, it is usually around food safety, manual handling and OHS. Much is on the job training and internal workshops.

While there has been a leap forward in marketing the value of food and the dining experience to a shifting ageing population, there is a lag in investing in training and personal development of staff in hospitality tips, trends, tools and techniques. Often staff feel they are set up to fail when another change pivot is hastily introduced and poorly executed.

New ovens are purchased with the intention of creating consistent quality meals, but digital capability isnt realised and staff just dial up the time and temp. A bratt pan is introduced with 8 functions, but only 1 is regularly utilised. Variance exists between user and meals. Little consideration is given to the quality of the food once it is taken out of the oven, even if the resident receives it up to 2 hours later.

Often, little thought is given to the strategy, culture and value of food in aged care. There is dissonance between the marketing of a facility and a focus on getting to benchmark. Why aim to hit food cost benchmark if you advertise luxury, 5-star, resort style?

I have seen staff blamed for being resistant to change and cajoled in culture change programs. Staff do their best for residents, but resent management who take away hours and add duties to a seemingly overwhelming schedule focussed on compliance and safety.

Takeaways from the presentations last night:

  1. We create the future. What is the world we would like to create?
  2. Build adaptive capacity so we can adapt to change.

3. Encourage an entrepreneurial mindset in all staff so we can cocreate solutions kaizen-style.

4. Recruit for soft skills like digital literacy, creativity, critical thinking, bilingual literacy.

5. Get curious and seek to understand (ourself, others, industry, the world).

6. Take action – keep moving and do it anyway. Small steps forward.

7. Test and adapt. Check the feedback loop.

Is this how you are equipping your staff to succeed in aged care?

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