The role of allied health in aged care has seen a rapid expansion in recent years. Newcomers to aged care often require additional support and guidance to be effective in this specialised area of health care, and there are more administrative hurdles as well.
Rather than leave people to figure it out for themselves, having a support network is crucial to ensuring allied health professionals are satisfied in their job and providing a high standard of care.
An aged care allied health company, Xtra AgedCare decided it needed to think outside the square to ensure new staff were getting the support they needed.
The Xtra Buddy Program kicked off in 2019, developed to meet and conquer the challenges identified by new staff in the WorkXtra Group annual survey.
While clinical support and a ‘buddy system’ are not revolutionary in the aged care space, the Xtra Buddy Program is unique in that it provides a dedicated ‘wellness’ angle for support that encourages meaningful conversations between colleagues.
The Xtra Buddy Program gives staff, who may themselves be recent graduates and relatively new to the workforce, an opportunity to share their learnings with and motivate new staff members as they start out in their aged care journey.
Under the program each new physiotherapist or occupational therapist who joins the WorkXtra team is allocated three distinct avenues for support:
Xtra Buddys are given a ‘conversation starter’ document to guide meaningful conversations around wellness and managing work/life balance. They are encouraged to use online technology through programs like Microsoft Yammer to ensure smooth communication venues, as well as ‘one click away’ support to clinical forums and advice.
Further to this, the Xtra Buddy is given $20 to use to buy their new team member a tea or coffee as a chance to get away to a quiet area off-site and promote an open and honest discussion.
As the year progresses, the Xtra Buddys and their staff members are provided with discussion papers and articles around various wellbeing topics to guide their discussions and keep the initiative fresh and engaging. Topics include mindfulness, working with purpose, nutrition, resilience and happiness, and evolve to meet the ever-changing challenges of the age services industry.
Moving forward the team will continue to collect and review the annual survey results, but at this preliminary stage the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the group has gone from initially having the program available to new graduates only, to opening it up to all new staff and implementing factors of the program into existing staff review processes.
To borrow the RU OK charity tagline ‘A conversation could change a life’, the WorkXtra Group hopes that the Xtra Buddy Program will foster meaningful conversations among staff, so that they can continue to have the skills and mindset to be the best therapists possible to their residents, clients and providers.
For more information please visit www.workxtra.com.au