Ageing in a foreign land conference

Ageing in a foreign land

An international conference in Adelaide is focusing on the importance of sharing culture and language in aged care.

One of the benefits is that residents of aged care centres and users of aged-care services can speak in their native language to a well-trained, multicultural workforce, particularly for older people with dementia.

With the theme ‘Hope, strength and meaning’, the 4th International Conference on Ageing in a Foreign Land at Flinders University this week will give insights from cross-disciplinary academics and researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and service providers on the provision of services and initiatives for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

Dr Genevieve Knight, from the National Institute for Labour Studies at Flinders, says the 2016 National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey confirmed the importance of a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) workforce in the sector.

“While the cultural background of aged-care workers made little contribution as to whether they provide good care or not, having staff who shared a mutual language and cultural background with CALD clients was considered a favourable employee characteristic,” says senior research fellow Dr Knight.

“Respondents said sharing culture or language with an aged care worker was important, with one saying the multicultural staff meant it was possible for residents to revert back to their native tongue in dementia.”

The Department of Health survey found that most residential facilities and home care outlets (91% and 72% respectively) employed at least one worker from a CALD background. In residential aged care, these workers were most commonly from India and the Philippines, and in home care and home support from Italy and South East Asia.

In 2016 the aged care workforce comprises of a sizeable but reducing share of overseas-born staff and a very small proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Overall 11% of residential workers but only 2% of home care and home support workers were overseas born, from non-English speaking background and with less than two years living in Australia.

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.

‘Skill shortages in the Australian aged care sector: The role of low wages’ is the topic of this week’s NILS lecture, by senior research fellow Dr Zhang Wei, at Flinders University on 20 June 2017.

The characteristics of good aged care for older multicultural groups will be a focus of the conference.

Attendance from sector experts, aged care workers and the community is welcome.

Flinders University academics and experts who helped to develop a new training free online training program for a multicultural workforce model for aged-care residents from diverse backgrounds will discuss the course.

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.

It was developed by Associate Professor Lily Xiao, Professor Eileen Willis, Associate Professor Ann Harrington, Associate Professor David Gilham, Dr Anita De Bellis, Wendy Morey and Lesley Jeffers. They will present at the conference with Petya Zhelezarova and Nicola Jackson.

ACH Group director Ms Mary Patetsos and Mahjabeen Ahmad, who leads the ACH Muslim Communities Project, will join a Q&A panel as part of the 4th International Conference on Ageing in a Foreign Land at SAHMRI on 20 June.

The 4th International Conference on Ageing in a Foreign Land will be held on 21-22 June at Flinders at Tonsley, 1284 South Road, Clovelly Park. Keynote speakers and other conference information is available here


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