85% permanent target for residential care and home care: Australian Unity’s strategies for workforce retention

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The aged care sector is facing a workforce crisis – but many operators are taking the lead. We are profiling the actions organisations are taking to tackle this challenge.

Investing in systems and learning and development for staff is key to driving workforce growth for Australian Unity, according to Beverly Smith (pictured), its Executive General Manager of Residential Communities.

Beverly, who features in this week’s issue of SATURDAY, says that the organisation’s Better Together model – which is based on the small household model of care co-located with retirement – not only reflects the built form of their sites, but also the operations and culture of the home.

“A key component of the value proposition for the team members in our aged care homes is about being able to work in that model, which is a much more homelike environment,” she said.

“It is a model that is very much around the engagement and empowerment of our Care Companions, in the way that we roster to each 17-suite household. There is more consistency and continuity with their customers that they support.

“The general managers who lead our homes are very carefully selected in terms of the culture and the leadership that they bring.”

Also critical to the group’s workforce initiatives is a significant investment in its systems, to reduce the day-to-day paperwork for staff.

“We try to make their work as effective as possible so that they are not spending overly long hours entering information into screens,” added Beverly.

To further support the 85% permanent target across its residential care and home care staff – as discussed in our SATURDAY magazine – Australian Unity has also invested heavily in its learning and development program in the last 12 months.

“We focus on engaging people in Better Together during their induction, their onboarding, and their on-the-job training, and their career progression and pathways. We have some great examples of where people have been supported to move up through various roles in our homes, and we are looking to offer that opportunity to a broader range of people as part of growing our own talent,” said Beverly.

Beverly points out that many of the workforce strategies being discussed by the Government are focused on the medium- to longer-term – not the short-term challenges.

“What providers need to look at is what can they do now to address these options. We continue to workshop this issue and analyse feedback from our employees to understand what we could be doing better that makes it easier for people to work with us and implementing those changes in practice.

“It is an ‘all hands to the pump’ focus for us, as it is with every other organisation, as retaining a good-quality workforce is essential in what we do,” she said.

Read more about how Australian Unity’s continuum of care model is delivering customer growth – and financial sustainability – in this week’s issue of SATURDAY: SUBSCRIBE HERE.

How is your organisation dealing with its workforce challenges? Email editor@theweeklysource.com.au and tell us more.