In this series, Carrie and Kell look at Holiday Planning for Aged Care services in rural and remote areas. It’s all about doing some preparation. We’ll be looking at client-related issues, staffing areas, organisational or service-level tasks and finish up with looking at how you can best use the quiet holiday period to catch up and put yourself in a good position for the coming year.

Staffing Levels over the Holiday Season

In this second podcast we look at how to prepare for potentially, decreased staffing levels over the holiday season. You need to ensure sufficient staff are on hand so that clients will have everything they need during the aged care centre’s slow down period. So what do you need to consider?

Who is going on leave?

  • Many staff have children and may choose to go into a larger town or visit family elsewhere at this time.
  • Traditionally communities have closed down for the Christmas period and generally you won’t find a lot of activity over the school Summer holiday time. Often CDCS consultants don’t travel out to community during this period as, apart from the hot temps and roads cut due to rain or ceremonial business, many staff are away on leave.

Is any cultural business that they need to attend over this period?

  • Staff members may also have ceremonial obligations that they need to attend to during this time. This is important cultural business that takes precedence over all else, including work.

Look at your required minimal staffing levels to operate a basic but quality service

  • Once you know what staff’s plans are (note, even where some local staff say they will be around to work during the time, in Aboriginal culture, if something important comes up they may have to attend to that) and you know what clients you have that you need to be concerned about during this time, you can look at your staffing levels and decide whether you have sufficient staff to provide a quality, if abridged, service. You can then roster staff accordingly.
  • Some staff, although willing, may be able to work only a couple of hours a day due to a variety of things e.g. children at home, fatigue from the heat and not being able to sleep due to the heat, their own chronic illness or wanting to take a break during this time.

What is your contingency around staffing?

If you identify that you won’t have sufficient staff to operate the service safely what will you do?

Options include:

  • Having a pool of casual staff from within the community to support basic essential services. You may be able to utilise CDP staff to deliver meals if they are operating over the holiday period.
  • Having an identified relief staff member who can be called on to provide care over the period.
  • Using agency staff – I know, costly but may be required.
  • Use students who are home from boarding school.
  • Contact registered training providers to see if they have any students willing to visit over this period to gain additional experience.
  • Consider using volunteer programs.

Want more information on getting your service ready for the end of year period?

Check out the rest of the Care Directions Podcast episodes in this series:

Episode 017: Client Care Considerations

Episode 019: Is Your Service Ready?

Episode 020: Quiet Time Opportunities

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Carrie and Kell

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