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Opinion: staff first aid training should be tailored for aged care environment

Quality first aid training can help aged care providers improve the health and safety of residents and staff, as well as stand out from competitors.

Following sweeping industry reforms in late February, organisations in the aged care sector are under increasing pressure to start behaving like brands, emphasising what sets them apart from their competition and shining a spotlight on the services they offer their clients.

Conversely, our society’s elderly now have more choice than ever before as to how and where they allocate their government subsidies, ensuring their chosen aged care provider will best be able to meet their needs.

As a care provider, one of your organisation’s key values will inevitably be to prioritise the safety and security of your residents. While this involves high quality day-to-day care, the ability of all staff to provide best-in-class first aid care is one way of ensuring your facility has a competitive edge. This includes ensuring staff at all levels have up-to-date first aid training, as well as being able to ensure them that their health and safety, not just that of residents, is a priority.

In the aged care sector, 55 per cent of WorkSafe claims are due to body stressing injuries, which can cost the industry approximately $5 million per year. First aid training that focuses on the needs of your industry can help to cut down on the number of these injuries, as staff become familiar with the correct practices and first aid response methods.

Expert in first aid training: Anthony Hasphall.

So how can you be sure you’re meeting the myriad requirements when selecting a first aid provider? Here are some of the capabilities to consider.

Quality

The aged care sector is continuously demonstrating its commitment to development, whether it is by implementing technology, such as an overhead hoist to aid in transferring patients from their beds and reduce manual handling injuries; or by offering innovative professional development opportunities. When looking for a first aid training partner, can you be sure they offer the same commitment to quality and innovation? For example, some providers now teach CPR with the use of high-tech mannequins, which measure and report back on compression pressure and frequency.

Take it upon yourself to thoroughly research a first aid provider that will provide your organisation with the highest standard of training. Be sure your chosen provider is a registered training organisation (RTO) that delivers nationally recognised training. Go beyond the fine print and consider the experience of an organisation (how many people do they train each year?), the latest technology and techniques they use (new research and learnings methods are constantly emerging) and how much experience the trainers have in the aged care sector.

Flexible courses

While having a broad range of first aid knowledge can be beneficial, when it comes to training your staff it can be very time consuming to have your first aid provider spend more time on concerns that you’re not likely to see (for example, the treatment of chemical burns) when compared with more common industry specific risks (for example, asthma attacks). Therefore, it is important that you partner with a provider who can tailor the content and delivery of courses to make it more suitable to your staff. In fact, some providers now offer courses specifically for aged care providers, tailoring the material and ensuring instructors have relevant industry experience. These courses include important information on wheelchair and bath safety, as well as manual handling of a person, which can be vastly different to manual handling advice for other industries because you need to factor in your own safety as well as that of your patient.

Value for money

When selecting your first aid training provider, you want to know they have connections with peak industry bodies like the Australian Resuscitation Council and the Australian Skills Quality Authority. However, many businesses are surprised to learn that some first aid training organisations are not RTOs issuing nationally recognised qualifications and statements of attainment. One of the main reasons people put off first aid training for their staff and opt for unaccredited or less in-depth training options is the perceived cost. But can you really afford to not give your staff the best training possible? Accidents and injuries can happen to anyone at any time, and the best way to ensure you’re covered in an emergency is to make sure all your staff are correctly trained.

Anthony Hasphall is St John Ambulance Victoria training team manager.

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