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How empowering our workforce with learning delivers better care

How empowering our workforce with learning delivers better care

The Five Good Friends Difference: How learning helps deliver better care

How we empower our workforce

Most companies have some sort of training or education plan for their workers, however, it’s often outsourced or online. They might ask their employees to complete some mandatory training to adhere to legislative requirements. Or they might bring external providers in to conduct skills workshops.

At Five Good Friends, we look at training a little differently; we focus on learning rather than training. We have a dedicated Learning and Development team of 11 people who take care of all the educational needs of our support workers.

We spoke to Learning and Development Manager Catherine Craft about why we treat education so differently.

Our learning journey

When Helpers (our name for support workers) join Five Good Friends, they often don’t have formal qualifications in health care. They come on board to provide companionship or help with household tasks, such as cleaning or laundry. They come with a willingness to help and care.

We like to get to know our Helpers so we can match them with a like-minded Member and someone they can form a friendship with. We believe that if you are going to invite someone into your house to help you, you need to trust them. You need to form a relationship and become socially connected.

Catherine explains how learning new skills builds that meaningful connection. She explains what happens when the Helper forms a bond with a Member who starts to get older and have more needs.

“Say it's an aged care Member and they need cataract surgery for example,” Catherine pondered. “Once they come home from hospital, they need eyedrops for a short period. If their original Helper doesn’t have the knowledge or skill to assist with those eye drops, a second Helper must be brought in. When the drops are no longer needed, the second Helper departs from the Member’s world.

“Then they age a bit more and they need a hand in the shower. So now we're bringing a third Helper in with the specialist knowledge. Whilst the original Helper that they’ve got the longest relationship with who they like the most continues doing the most unpersonable task like ironing.” Catherine continued.

Five Good Friends realised things needed to change. Rather than bringing in extra support workers with specific skill sets, they decided to upskill the Helper so they can continue the Member’s journey with them, growing their friendship.

“So when the Member needs eye drops, we can teach them that rather than bringing in a new Helper. The Helper learns how to support their Members with what they need,” Catherine said.

How our upskilling works

We have a huge range of courses for Helpers to do. Some are to help them with their Member’s medication management, movement, safe swallowing or personal care needs. Others are for Helpers to improve their business such as time management, technology or communication skills.

The courses don’t take too long either. “Some courses are 10 minutes. Our longest could take them a week if they were working fulltime and did an hour of study each night” Catherine explained.

We use micro-credentialling as a way for our Helpers to get the skills they need. For example, instead of doing a 3-month medication management course, we have split all the various medication types into single modules. So Helpers only have to learn about the medication they need for their Member at the moment it’s needed, eliminating unnecessary training.

But if they decide they want to know more, that’s ok too. Our courses are open to everyone at any time.

"Our courses are quality courses. So if they hope to go on to TAFE or future studies, we can give Helpers course evidence that Helpers can apply for prior recognised learning," Catherine said.

Another aspect of our micro-credentialing is learning what support is needed and the level of support the Helper is happy to provide. For example, our micro-credentialing Personal Care courses are broken into three levels so Helpers can learn the level they're comfortable with.

  1. Standby – this gives Helpers the skills to be there for Members who need a little help getting into the shower but can wash themselves. It teaches Helpers about bathroom safety and avoiding burns.
  2. Partial – this adds on to the safety aspects but also trains a Helper to assist a Member do part of their washing, such as the hard to reach areas of their back and feet.
  3. Full assistance – this teaches Helpers to wash every part of a Member’s body.

Our in-person learning philosophy

What makes the real difference is that this learning isn’t all done online. Many of these courses have a face-to-face, hands on approach, often in a Member’s home. So the Helper gets one-on-one instruction and complete confidence in their new skills.

“We have a team of training facilitators that are qualified in nursing or disability, but also have a training and assessment qualifications. They go out and meet Helpers in the Member’s home and teach them exactly how the member does their medications or has a shower. This is really unusual for a community support sector because a lot of training isn’t as practical or individual as ours.,” Catherine explained.

Some training modules are completed online and we have undertaken research into what style of learning suits our Helpers best.

“Most of our Helpers are visual learners. So we use lots of videos, colours, graphics, pictures, and animations,” she said.

It’s all about learning, not training

Five Good Friends develops learning activities, not cookie-cutter training for when people need to know or want to know about something or because it’s that time of the year to do training. But Catherine thinks learning makes all the difference.

"To truly learn something, you must value it, love it". The last statistics showed each Helper has done an average of 19.8 courses.

“They pick the subjects that they want and they do it out of dedication and connection to their Members. They want to keep their Members. If the Members need help, they’re quite happy to learn what to do to help them more. It’s quite beautiful really,” she concluded.

If you want help from a team who learns more to support your journey, get in touch with our team.

Learn more: How we match you with your ideal Helper.

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