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A new program supported by the Victorian Government is set to launch on Friday 22 May, providing personal care assistants (PCAs) working in aged care and with the tools and training materials they need to develop stronger and better relationships with older people.

The Little Things project, led by the Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre in partnership with Meaningful Ageing Australia, is funded by the Victorian Government to provide evidence-based training materials built on authentic interactions between highly skilled PCAs from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) backgrounds and older people who are accessing aged care.

The training kit, available from early June, contains authentic and evidence-based intercultural language training materials for PCAs from CALD backgrounds working, or training to work, in aged care. The project has also proved to be relevant to carers and trainees who speak English as their first language.

The Little Things project was evaluated by aged care researchers from La Trobe University led by Professor Yvonne Wells and has been proven to work. It aims to improve the intercultural communication in everyday interactions in aged care by focussing on how PCAs best communicate with older people.

“We have been trialling the training materials for a number of months and now we are thrilled to launch our training kit,” said The Little Things Project Manager, Pip Mackey.

“The project helps improve the quality of care for older people offered by current and future aged care workers, increase PCAs’ confidence as carers and enhance their career prospects. It also helps PCAs engage in a meaningful way, increase their efficiency with their daily tasks and elevate their overall job satisfaction,” Ms Mackey said.

Arcare is a family-owned business with more than 5000 staff nationwide delivering aged care to older Australians since 1997. Its Victorian arm has been involved in the project research and development for almost two years and has seen positive impacts in the workplace as a result of The Little Things project.

“This is such a fantastic initiative and we’re so proud to have been involved in the trials. The name speaks volumes. It is truly about the little things you do in your day-to-day that make a big difference. We’ve seen our team members who participated develop more confidence and awareness in the way they communicate and flourish in their work as a result of the project,” said Arcare Aged Care Special Projects Manager, Kelly Smith.

“We have a diverse workforce. Our team members and clients come from all walks of life and The Little Things project has really helped support our team and clients from all backgrounds,” Ms Smith said.

“To anyone considering The Little Things project for their organisation, I would encourage you to give it a go. It’s not like any other generic training. A lot of thought and research has gone into the program and the material has been developed based on the relationships and conversations between team members and clients. It’s not a huge expense and it doesn’t require a huge amount of resources or time either. I’d like to see it being implemented across all aged care residences and I can see huge benefits if it was to be included in the Certificate III in Aged Care,” she said.

All resources and activities provided in The Little Things training kit are based on the findings of applied linguistics research conducted at participating aged care services and Learn Local Registered Training Organisations (LLRTOs).

To hear more about The Little Things project and to preview the materials, you can register for a free half an hour session on Friday 22 May 2020 12noon AEST: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/the-little-things-launch-tickets-102321121228.

The training resources are available through the Meaningful Ageing Australia website: www.meaningfulageing.org.au/resources.