26 September 2023

Aged care ambassadors to cut violence

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A WorkCover pilot trial of resident ambassadors in an aged-care setting is showing there are reduced incidences of violence and aggression against care workers.

An idea from a working group in Queensland’s Health and Community Services Industry Sector Standing Committee, the pilot trial began earlier this year.

It was conducted at the Churches of Christ Crows’ Nest Residential Aged Care Facility, drawing specifically on the experience of care and clinical staff employed in the facility’s Memory Support Unit.

The pilot was aimed at addressing the unmet needs and challenging behaviour of residents, which had been found to contribute to incidents of violence and aggression against staff in care settings.

In a statement, WorkCover said the project involved upskilling four staff with strong interpersonal skills, as well as prior experience of the unit, to take on the new role of Resident Experience Ambassadors.

“By learning to identify resident triggers, how to identify unmet needs and apply appropriate interventions, ambassadors became equipped to, in a worker’s words, ‘de-escalate behaviour before it got worse’ and potentially cause injury to unit staff,” WorkCover said.

“Key to the success of the pilot was plain clothes. When rostered specifically for an ambassador shift, staff wore casual clothes instead of their uniforms,” it said.

It said this immediately signalled they weren’t on the floor to deliver clinical or personal care but assist as “extra eyes on the floor and someone specifically for understanding and dealing with behaviour”, as one worker put it.

As a result, “the residents were fed quickly and they were looked after better.”

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