Academic journal article International Journal of Training Research

Brief Classroom Training Sessions for Workplace Readiness: Are They Effective?

Academic journal article International Journal of Training Research

Brief Classroom Training Sessions for Workplace Readiness: Are They Effective?

Article excerpt

Introduction and background

This paper reports the findings from an inquiry into the effectiveness of brief classroom training sessions for a group of Australian home care workers (HCWs) learning manual handling. These workers do not have the close support and guidance of more experienced colleagues, as they carry out their work in the privacy of their clients' homes. Instead, they are expected to complete the complex and challenging tasks (e.g. hoisting clients, repositioning in bed, pushing wheelchairs over difficult terrain) that comprise this role after only very perfunctory classroom training, and without direct supervision and support. Concerns about the efficacy of this classroom training have been raised (Faucett, Kang, & Newcomer, 2013; Markannen et al., 2014), as musculoskeletal injuries (predominantly back injuries) in the health and community services sector continue to occur at alarming rates (Clemes, Haslam, & Haslam, 2010; Kay & Glass, 2011; Martimo et al., 2008). It is proposed that HCWs do not always use the classroom manual handling techniques they are taught because of the inadequacy of education being offered in classrooms (Palesy, 2015). Consequently, a primary research focus on understanding how best to support HCWs to learn and adapt their classroom training to the practice of home care represents an important and worthwhile task. This understanding is critical not only for the safety of HCWs, but also for their care recipients.

The Australian home care sector

The health and community services sector is Australia's fastest growing workforce sector, as frail older adults and people with disabilities are increasingly opting to be cared for in their own homes rather than move to care facilities (Health & Community Services Workforce Council, 2012). The majority of home care work is performed by female, middle-aged, low-paid, entry-level workers with low levels of English literacy (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014; Australian Institute of Health & Welfare [AIHW], 2013; Hugo, 2007, 2009; Markannen et al., 2014; Martin & Healy, 2010). Many HCWs engage in paid care work as a result of previous experience as an unpaid carer at home with a child, an elderly parent or family member with a disability (Somerville, 2006a). Consequently, home care work is often subject to gendered discrimination (Somerville, 2006b), perceived simply as a mere extension of the nurturing skills of mothers (Nay & Garratt, 2002) and based on the honourable ideals of family and love (Markannen et al., 2014; Meagher, 2006). The suggestion here is that HCWs may disregard their classroom training, as in practice they often feel morally or socially bound to place their own health and safety at risk for that of their clients or 'family members' (Palesy, 2015).

Learning manual handling in the classroom

While the importance of an appropriately skilled workforce for home care is recognised (Australian Skills Quality Authority, 2013; Martin & Healy, 2010), job preparation and training frequently fail to prepare HCWs for provision of support to clients with complex needs (Mott, Chau, & Chan, 2007; Stone, Sutton, Bryant, Adams, & Squillace, 2013). The work is physically and emotionally challenging, and these pressures potentially impact on recruitment, training and retention of staff (Stone et al., 2013).

Home care in Australia is regulated by legislation and national standards (e.g. Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, 2014; Australian Government, 2014). However, besides stipulating the kinds of services that clients should expect to receive in home care and the need for appropriately trained staff, these standards suggest nothing by way of training content and types of training experiences to achieve this. So, for the most part, service providers are encouraged to participate in their own quality assurance processes to ensure uniformity of service provision.

The Certificate III in Aged Care remains the most common qualification for new entrants to the home and community services sector (Australian Skills Quality Authority, 2013). …

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