I recently caught up with a close aged care contact David Fleming. David is a senior exec who has an outstanding record in the sector for shaping and implementing policy, operations and people development. We were discussing the current intense scrutiny of the aged care sector under the cloud of the Royal Commission and impact of a pandemic. This somewhat bad press has caused anxiety amongst the people that make up the multitude of task groups delivering services to the elderly. Recruitment and retention are becoming increasingly challenging. David drew an analogy with a recent visit to his local grocer. He purchased some pink lady apples without giving it too much thought. Sadly, one of those apples turned out to be quite unpleasant.
I took his first bite the content was quickly discarded from my mouth and along with the rest of it was placed quickly in the compost. I was very disappointed by that experience and bemoaned it for most of the afternoon. The following day I tried another apple despite being wary that I would have a repeated experience of the day before. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by the crispness and fresh taste of the new apple. To be honest, all the other apples I had purchased were delicious. As I think about our reported experiences of Aged Care over the past few years, they remind me a bit about those apples. In recent times we seem to be bombarded with bad news stories of things not working well in Aged Care. There seems to be endless accounts of staff doing distasteful and downright terrible things to the very people they are meant to be caring for. Systems and practices that should be supporting the well-being of clients and residents have in some instances been completely negligible or even dangerous. The backdrop of the Aged Care Royal Commission seems to provide explosive fuel for yet another mismanaged and limited service due to a lack of finances, a lack of skill or a lack of decency. Just like the bad apple, each of these individual matters need to be called out, discarded and thrown onto the compost where they belong.
But overwhelmingly, there are still more good apples in Aged Care. Every day around Australia there are literally hundreds of thousands of interactions between people where recipients of Aged Care get a positive experience. Clients and residents are lovingly showered, clothed, fed, transported and cared for in uniquely personal ways. Good staff often provide much more than a transaction. Good staff become a lot like family who turn up, day in, day out to ensure older people receive whatever it takes for them to experience dignity, respect and validation. Many of these interactions go unnoticed because that is what we expect to happen.
In these times of negativity and complex changes brought about by the necessity to always keep improving how we provide Aged Care it may be worth taking a moment to remember our good experiences as well. Let the good staff know what they are doing that you like and appreciate. You may be surprised at how well that motivates them to do even better in their efforts to care for you the best way they know how.
abrs works across the aged care sector supporting talent attraction at all levels. We work with many growing aspiring aged care organisations seeking ‘good apples’ as David puts it daily. To inquire about your next role or gain some career advice speak to our dedicated aged care recruitment team.