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What it takes to be an agile employer in a complex industry

Good care for residential aged care residents is contingent upon the availability of qualified, motivated and experienced employees at all levels of the organisation. From the kitchens to the laundry, to the clinical team to management services, this is an industry that asks a lot of its employees.

The role of our front line care employees continues to evolve with skills shifting considerably over the past 10 years. Increasingly our employees undertake more and more complex care as residents come to us with a greater level of acuity, many with cognitive impairment or other mental health issues. They do this while managing complex relationships with both residents and their families and do so in an environment where the media focus has been on negative stories about resident care rather than on the wonderful work most people in our industry are doing each and every day.

In recognition of the complexity of our industry TriCare works with external specialists to provide upskilling and professional development opportunities for all employees as well as investing in the future of the aged care workforce at large by partnering with organisations such as QLD TAFE. This partnership provides work placement opportunities for students of aged and community care services, many of whom stay on with us at the conclusion of their training.

TriCare’s Aged Care division also funds a professional development program known as ‘Grow Our Own’. The purpose of the program is to support employees to undertake further studies in a related field by offering financial assistance to meet the costs of studying. Employees make a commitment to their studies and to Tricare for the duration of the period of study. We find this program not only supports the career development of our employees but also provides direct benefit to our residents through improved resident care practices.

We are particularly proud of the work we have been doing around risk management and return to work. TriCare is one of a very small number of employers who hold a Self-Insurance Licence. This means that our response to employee incidents is swift linking staff to medical specialists, assisting with completing paperwork and in ensuring a safe return to duties. We believe that this is just one more way we can support employee wellbeing and we can do it without working through the processes of a third party who do not necessarily understand the context of our workplaces or who have relationships with our staff.

While we use traditional recruitment strategies when vacancies do arise we find that because of our approach that many of our positions are filled internally by staff wanting to further their careers while remaining with us. We also have a strong ‘word of mouth’ referral stream which we anticipate will grow as our public profile on such things as LinkedIn and Facebook expand. Our recruitment processes are rigorous and we do not apologise for that. We are building a strong team of committed professionals who share our vision. The work we have done over recent months in developing a strong food services team under the guidance of our Project Officer – Food Services is great example of the direction we are taking. We now have in place in each service, a fresh cook model that operates under the direction of professionally trained chefs who understand the legislative environment but who are ready and prepared to innovate to meet resident expectations.

TriCare believes we have a responsibility to understand each and every role intimately. Only in this way can we ever possibly remain flexible and responsive to our employees’ needs and be in a position to support their ongoing development. Committed? Yes. Putting it all into practice? Definitely. Bringing everyone in the organisation on board? Absolutely, because HR practices can never just be a series of statements, they have to be dynamic and driven by strategic thinkers who understand the complexities of the industry in which we operate.

For more information about Residential Aged and Retirement Living accommodation we provide call us on 1300 TRICARE.