UniSA resources supporting complex aged-care communication challenges

Linguistic and cultural diversity among nurses and care workers combined with complex patient health profiles among those who depend on their care, are addressed in the Communicating safety and care in the context of linguistic and cultural diversity in aged care: an intercultural approach to training report launched today by the Minister for Ageing and Multicultural Affairs, Zoe Bettison.

It is increasingly challenging for care workers, many of whom come from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, to support clients with a range of complex behaviours or unmet needs such as those associated with dementia, especially when communication is occurring across languages and cultures.

Funded by a Safe Work SA Innovative Practice grant the University of South Australia’s Research Centre for Languages and Cultures project team Associate Professor Angela Scarino, Dr Fiona O’Neill and Dr Jonathan Crichton worked with industry partners Helping Hand Aged Care and Southern Cross Care to conduct site-based research and develop professional learning resources and practical strategies that will enhance the capacity of supervisory and direct care staff to manage this communication in the context of complex diversity.

“Of particular concern in contexts of linguistic and cultural diversity is understanding how to communicate care and safety around challenging behaviours so our project took an intercultural approach to the development and design of the resources,” Assoc Prof Scarino says.

“Collaborating closely at all stages with management and staff at Helping Hand and Southern Cross Care and with the Project Advisory Group, we analysed documentation of incident reports and conducted focus group discussions with trainers, nurses and care workers to jointly identify the challenges and possibilities for communicating safety and care.

“We then developed a set of five professional learning modules which include videos in which nurses and care workers themselves talk about how they communicate safety and care – with a focus on the diverse perspectives and ways of communicating and caring that people bring from their different language and cultural backgrounds.

“Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) is a convenient label that is often used in policies and guidelines but it can hinder understanding in providing for safety and care if communication is not recognised as intercultural and everyone’s responsibility.

“Understanding requires us to bridge our own language and culture in relation to the languages and cultures of others because being ‘at home’ in one’s own language and culture is a characteristic of all of us.”

The resource was trialled in the two industry sites with trainers, nurses and care workers and has been taken up in the two industry partner organisations and is also available online.

Helping Hand Director of Research and Development, Megan Corlis, says feedback from staff has been very positive.

“One of our trainers said they had never seen staff as connected with behaviour and described the resources as critical in encouraging relationship-centred care which then encourages better care and reduces ‘triggers’,” Corlis says.

Southern Cross Care Director of Workforce, Steve McCallum, agrees saying the resources are a great way to build collective intelligence across staff and customers.

“The discussions and activities included in these resources are great for -broadening people’s perspectives and we found they fostered the development of a range of expertise,” McCallum says.

Each module builds on the other, focusing on a particular aspect of practice while maintaining a common orientation relevant to workers at all levels of the organisation: carers, enrolled nurses, registered nurses, trainers and managers.

The modules are designed for flexible delivery, on or off-line, and incorporate a four-segment structure that can be adapted to the needs and interests of participants and the professional development time available.

Module 1 - ‘Challenging behaviours’ or ‘unmet needs’: A clinical perspective (PDF, 200KB)

Module 2 - Understanding linguistic, cultural and faith-based diversity in relation to challenging behaviours or unmet needs (PDF, 392KB)

Module 3 - Communicating in relation to challenging behaviours or unmet needs (PDF, 346KB)

Module 4 - Relating to the person with challenging behaviours or unmet needs: Personal histories, life journeys and memories (PDF, 399KB)

Module 5 - Managing risk in relation to challenging behaviours or unmet needs (PDF, 319KB)

Media Contacts: Katrina McLachlan email katrina.mclachlan@unisa.edu.au mobile 0414972537

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise