Work4Dementia: Helping to build capacity and resilience for the dementia care workforce
The aged and dementia care workforce is one of the fastest growing occupational groups, but it is not growing fast enough. The number of care workers in Australia must increase to meet growing complex dementia care needs. There are problems with recruiting and retaining workers in the aged care sector and this has flow on effects for the quality of care for older adults, including people living with dementia.
Our previous research has shown that social ties with clients provide meaning in care work and the relationships care workers have with their clients are a motivating factor to participate in the job. Those who feel committed to clients and socially connected adjust to the challenges of their roles and often remain working in the sector. However, despite being with people all day, many aged care workers feel isolated and desire collegial support. Feeling unable to provide quality care or dissatisfied in their roles may be a reason for workers to quit their jobs.
There are gaps in continuing professional education, training and workplace supports in this sector. Strategies are required to attract, support and retain care staff, but we still do not know which programs best develop worker capacity and resilience. Capacity building interventions in dementia care have focused on education of the workforce without taking into account the stress and coping factors of high job demands.
Our research will help to identify which strategies best reduce job stress, enhance work engagement, reduce turnover and improve quality care. We will develop an innovative intervention informed by this research and trial it in several aged care organisations.
For further information about our work in this area please contact Dr Kate-Ellen Elliott at KateEllen.Elliott@utas.edu.au.