Training multicultural workers for aged care critical

A new aged-care training program rolling out in South Australia will help to address the rising and specific needs of multicultural groups across Australia.


The new Australian online course course for Cross-cultural care for aged care staff developed by Flinders University with funding from the Australian Government is being tested by staff in four local aged-care facilities ahead of a national launch later this year.


Associate Professor Lily Xiao, from the Flinders School of Nursing and Midwifery, says the Resthaven and Anglicare trials are showing a willingness by providers to expand services to multicultural communities, with the course designed for both Australian-born and overseas-born aged care staff.


The number of overseas-born staff in our residential aged-care homes is 75,444, or about 32% of the workforce, with many of them from non-English speaking backgrounds. They look after 54,558 residents who were born overseas,” says Flinders dementia expert Associate Professor Xiao.


“It is clear we need to keep improving cross-cultural communication in our aged-care homes, both between staff and residents, and to develop a multicultural workforce to improve the quality of care for residents.”


The new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) course developed at Flinders in South Australia seeks to address this by offering unlimited participation and open access via the web on topics from cross-cultural communication, leadership, dementia care and end-of-life care.


Catering for the specific needs of ethnic or cultural groups is still offered by fewer than half of aged care residential facilities or home care outlets, senior research fellow Dr Knight said, adding:

  • Around a quarter of residential facilities and 43 per cent of home care and home support outlets cater for a specific ethnic or cultural group, most frequently Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Italian older adults.

  • A much higher share of aged care facilities and outlets reported catering for the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex older adults in 2016 than in 2012 1 per cent. 11 per cent of residential facilities and 17 per cent of home care and home support outlets reported catering for the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex older adults in 2016.

  • This illustrates the increasing supply and use of aged care services which are inclusive of older adults from diverse backgrounds.

Australia’s Productivity Commission has estimated that by 2050 the national aged care workforce will need to grow to around 980,000 workers. It is vital that the sector and its workforces are monitored to keep all stakeholders informed and help the design and implementation of new policies to meet this growth.


2 July 2017.