Dr Sharon Hetherington1, Ms Natalia Hautala2, Dr Anthony Tuckett2
1Burnie Brae, Chermside, Australia, 2The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
Care workers are an integral part of aged care service provision in Australia and constitute 84 percent of the home care and support sector. They perform a diverse array of tasks including; assisting with personal care, domestic assistance, assisting with mobility and social support. This workforce is predominately female, aged 50 plus and in good health. They provide direct care to clients in their homes, assisting them to maintain their independence and delaying progression to higher, more dependent, levels of care. Care workers represent an untapped resource for implementation of reablement in the home. With appropriate workforce development, care workers are ideally placed to support their clients to become more active at home. This qualitative study investigates the challenges faced by care workers as they completed online training to up-skill them to deliver a simple in-home exercise program (the ‘Active at Home’ program).
Care workers who had completed the online training were asked to provide insight into their experiences. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by phone with 11 care workers drawn from three organisations offering Active at Home.
Analysis of interview content identified four overarching themes; care worker belief in the benefit of exercise for clients; overall experience of the online training; experiences completing the assessment tasks; and organisational support to complete the training.
Care workers saw great value in up-skilling to provide exercise support to their clients although they were daunted by the prospect of completing online assessments. They were more engaged and successful, and less daunted, when their organisation provided support such as in-work time to complete learning and assessment tasks, being able to work in a group and when their team leader completed the training with them. Our findings stress the importance of organisations providing tangible support to staff when they engage in workforce development via online modalities.
Dr Sharon Hetherington is an exercise physiologist and researcher whose specialist area is the impact of a physically active life on healthy ageing. Sharon is research manager at Burnie Brae involved in studies of the effect of progressive resistance training on the health of older people. She is also a member of the Active at Home business development unit working on the national roll out of the program.