Supporting clients with a range of complex medical issues means working in disability care goes beyond a paper qualification. Ongoing training and support from industry professionals and clinical experts is key to building a skilled workforce capable of providing the highest quality support to some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“We make sure staff receive training so they can support clients to access activities, study, employment and more, but our training also expands to cover different types of disability such as autism spectrum disorder, spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury or other physical disabilities,” says Peter Thorn, national training manager for HenderCare. “With complex care, it might be learning to support someone who requires assistance with breathing (tracheostomy or assisted ventilated care) or with feeding (a tube through the nose or stomach).
“A lot of this care was traditionally provided by nurses but these days it’s becoming more of a support worker role.”
To ensure its support workers are capable of meeting the demands of the job, HenderCare employs a team of clinical nurses whose job it is to work with clients, their families and medical specialists to identify the types of care required. “A lot of the training we provide is tailored around the individual needs of participants, because not every client wants things done the same way,” Thorn says. “For instance, a client may have tracheotomy care or be fed through a PEG, but it might be done in a different way from one client to the next. Our clinical nurse educators are able to tailor the training around that.”
Ongoing training and upskilling not only supports clients but staff, too. “It’s about making sure staff are always the best prepared, that they know they might be thrown a curveball from time to time, they know how to maintain a level of resiliency, have the ability to problem solve and know where to get the information and support they need,” Thorn says. “We also update a lot of the training as best practice
develops and there are changes to legislation.”
The training received not only develops skills: it can also be a pathway into career development. “We have a number of staff who have done their Certificate III or IV and go on to study a Diploma or Bachelor of Nursing or some other allied health profession,” Thorn says. “Their work in this field supports their ongoing learning and development.”
– Lynn Cameron