The Little Things Training Materials

little things

The Little Things is a ready-to-use evidence-based training resource to develop personal carers’ skills to relate as they provide care to older Australians in aged care settings.

This resources are based on authentic interactions between personal care assistants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and older people in aged care homes.

Produced with input from best practice carers, older people, and industry experts, The Little Things is proven to help develop intercultural communication skills for personal carers working in aged care.

‘Workers in the aged care sector alerted us to your training resource, and described it as the ‘gold standard’. So of course we purchased copies … It’s a really delightful, thoughtful and accessible set of resources.’

A/Professor Leanne Humphreys | Director, Training and Workforce Development | Phoenix Australia | The University of Melbourne

Watch the one minute intro

The Little Things project was led by Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre (FSNLC) in partnership with Meaningful Ageing Australia.

The aged care project participants were Uniting AgeWell, Arcare, Outlook Gardens and Jewish Care Victoria. The Learn Local Registered Training Organisation (LLRTO) project participants were The Centre – Your Community College (Wangaratta), Laverton Community Integrated Services Inc and Westgate Community Initiatives Group Inc.

The project was evaluated by aged care researchers from La Trobe University led by Professor Yvonne Wells; and supported by the Victorian Government.

Research into how PCAs from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds related to older people in aged care settings was based on the minor thesis written by Pip Mackey in completion of her Masters of Applied Linguistics at the University of Melbourne.

This thesis included a review of relevant literature and a preliminary investigation into the pragmatic language use of CALD PCAs.

Interviews were conducted with trainers at Learn Local registered training organisations (LLRTOs) and service managers and senior staff on site at participating aged care homes.

Senior staff and older residents of the aged care homes were asked to nominate best practice CALD PCAs who were then approached to volunteer to participate in the research. CALD PCAs who consented to participate in the research were interviewed to gain insight into:

  • How they communicate with an older person
  • What they see as the priorities of their work
  • The issues they face in delivery of care to older people.

Older people with whom those PCAs worked and were able to give informed consent to participate in the research were approached to join the research phase.

Researchers ‘shadowed’ PCAs during a shift to observe the context of their work and to select key areas where communication skills were important.

PCAs wore digital audio recorders on their arms to record interactions between themselves and the older people who had consented to participate in the research. These recordings were collected over the course of three separate shifts.

The recordings were transcribed and analysed to select best practice models of communication between PCAs and older people. Training materials were developed, based entirely on data collected from the interviews, observations and recordings.

The training materials included six short films where the screenplay was based on the authentic dialogue taken from the recordings and guided by insights gained from the interviews and observations.

Trained actors played the roles of the older people and professional PCAs played the role of two different carers in the films. The training materials were trialled with groups of PCAs at participating aged care homes and with students enrolled in Certificate III Individual Support at LLRTOs and their trainers.


Please note the kits are for small groups and aged care service providers – TAFES and universities may purchase a license to use the materials in your programs.

Book an on-line train-the-trainer session and receive a full kit for free!

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