Tuesday, February 3, 2009
eMentoring and aged care
I thought you might be interested in hearing about the eMentoring project I am currently working on at Aged Care Queensland (ACQI).
The aged and community care health sector in Queensland, Australia
ACQI is an association that has members from across the aged care sector which includes retirement villages, residential homes and community care providers. ACQI provides a number of different services such as education and professional development packages, advocacy and advice about a range of issues. Suffice to say, recruitment and retention is always a serious issue in this sector of health care provison, which ACQI is constantly working to address.
Staff recruitment and retention
It doesn't take much imagination to think why it is difficult to recruit people into aged care. The work is very challenging and can be physically very hard. Interestingly (and I am sorry I haven't got the reference to hand), people who work in the community ie those who provide care in the home, are happier and have greater job satisfaction. I suspect this is because they have greater control over how they work, and this equates to findings about the way community midwives work and job satisfaction.
The other major issue for Queensland is that it is a huge geographical area, and many health care staff work in rural and remote areas with little support, and minimal access to professional development. I have to admit that I didn't really appreciate just how isolated some communities are until I started talking to people here. It is so difficult to get a real sense of how big Queensland is until you come here and start looking around.
Supporting aged and community health care staff
The community care arm of ACQI has received government funding to implement an eMentoring scheme which aims to support staff, especially those who work in rural and remote areas, as well as indeginous and Torres Straits people.
My brief is to recruit people who feel they would benefit from being mentored, and experienced staff who have the skills and knowledge to pass on in the mentor's role. I have to match the couples or groups, provide mentoring education and support people as they develop their mentoring relationships. I also have to develop an eMentoring handbook/CD Rom which I am going to put a Creative Commons licence on.
Computer and digital literacy
It goes without saying that the biggest challenge for such a project is ensuring that people have access to appropriate equipment and the Internet. I will be required to do a needs analysis of people's computer skills and ability to access the Internet, and provide relevant training. I am hoping to introduce people to free communication mediums such as Skype, with the idea that this program is sustainable when the funding runs out.
Have you ever had anything with formal mentoring schemes? What were their good points and downsides? If you were going to join an eMentoring project as either mentor or mentee, what would be important to you?
Image: 'ekuverikamakee, gadha fadha baareh' notsogoodphotography