Statistics have shown that in our ageing society, there is a looming issue… care worker shortage!

For many aged care service providers, this is already a concern. Attracting staff who have the necessary qualifications, as well as aptitude for the role, can be problematic. One solution might be to ‘grow’ your workforce from within.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the costs of recruiting staff began as a thorn in the side of one aged care service I was managing. As this was a new business, recruitment funds were limited. I had to think smart – students!

Aged Care Students can assist your organisation to overcome staff shortages.Some managers / coordinators may be rolling their eyes and grimacing with the memory of dealing with workers new to the industry, however, the majority of students I have had the pleasure of working with have developed into valuable contributors to this sector. It is essential for students (your future workforce) to obtain experience in a ‘real’ care environment, alongside an experienced care worker, learning how to implement WH&S procedures and practice Personal Care tasks, among many other things.

Why Use Students?

In the past, many care workers came into the industry with no prior knowledge, experience or training. Compare this to today’s students. Before being allowed to spend time in the real world setting, students completing their Certificate III in Individual Support must obtain a certain amount of classroom training. This training covers areas of workplace health and safety, infection control, understanding the ageing process as well as working effectively in a team. So students are actually a step up from the old system and can be an asset to your future workforce.

When you buddy a student up with one of your senior care workers, not only are you gaining an extra set of hands, eyes and ears, but you are ensuring that the student obtains industry relevant experience and understands their role in the workforce better. No doubt you have put a lot of time and effort into setting a standard and developing a healthy culture within your organisation and this is your opportunity to not only train potential new staff members on the practical side of care work, but to demonstrate what quality care and support looks like in your organisation and that meets your expectations. While you can be securing good staff for your own business, you are also contributing to the future of the Aged Care sector.

Once a student has completed their work placement hours you have some options available to you. While they have been on site you may have gotten to know the student yourself, or you will have received feedback from your senior care workers. If this person is a good fit for your organisation, and you have a position available, you may want to offer them a position within your organisation. The bonus is that if the student is not a good fit for your team, then ‘bye-bye’, no strings attached!

Accepting Students into your workplace

During my time as a Manager of a Community Care business, I welcomed students and was not shy in spreading the word that I am an avid supporter of contributing to the development of confident and competent care workers in an industry that is expanding rapidly. However, I do believe that there are some key standards that you need to ensure are in place prior to accepting a student.

For a low maintenance transition of students into your workplace, set your criteria. Students must have:

  • A current First Aid/CPR qualification
  • Completed Manual Handling/Infection Control training
  • A current Police Check
  • A current Blue/Ochre Card (this will vary between states and territories)
  • Provided a current certificate of Insurance from the RTO
  • Signed a workplace agreement

While it is the responsibility of the Registered Training Organisation to ensure their students come prepared and continue to provide support to the student where necessary, you can improve outcomes by:

  • Orientating the student to the workplace
  • Letting the student know the standard you expect from them (turning up for work on time and what they can and cannot do)
  • Getting regular feedback from your staff and the student – often when things go wrong it is because of lack of communication
  • Buddying up the student with the best of your current staff to ensure good habits are learnt

For the future of our industry we need these students, if not today it might be tomorrow. Our current aged care workforce is ageing, now is the time to act and recognise student placements as a long-term benefit to your organisation.

So why should you accept a student placement?

  • Students = Saving $$$ on advertising costs!
  • Students = Saving hours and hours of interviewing time!
  • Students = Extra set of hands to increase productivity!
  • Students = Opportunity to train your workforce to your expected standard!
  • Students = Trained workforce with up to date and current knowledge!

Who needs any more reasons than that?

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Kellie

Kellie brings with her a wealth of practical knowledge and experience. As an independent consultant, she has worked with organisations delivering services on remote indigenous communities, training and encouraging the coordinators and other staff in the development of quality care outcomes for their client base.