After recently an article about graduate retention rates, I was pleased to see the article highlighting the need for mentoring from Personal Care Workers as one of the solutions to improve clinical placement experiences for student nurses ... I enjoy reading the comments so I scrolled to the bottom of the screen then ...
Something that made me want to scream at my computer.
"Students are only sent to aged care because there’s not enough places in hospitals for them (and they charge exhorbitant fees to accept them). Sending faxes, calling GPs, participating in rampant polypharmacy and practising outdated wound management really aren’t the skills they need …
and they certainly dont need to be ‘mentored’ by an unskilled care worker; if they’re smart enough to get into Uni, they’re smart enough to work out how to use lifters incorrectly, cross infect residents or inflict skin tears all by themselves." - Dave
... that is just a small segment of what Dave wrote.
The preceding comments didn't really say anything that challenged Dave's point of view nor did they provide a strong counter argument.
Why is it that when individuals (like Dave) are strong in their convictions about the incompetence of the aged care workforce we are not willing to raise our voices and take a stand? I know I was hesitant. I'm not a nurse and I don't know Dave's background. How can I show the world that there is an alternative, more positive point of view here?
I am raising this because Dave's attitude is not uncommon. We are all trained to think this way, to not accept norms, and identify problems. It becomes an issue when it is the common theme people see. Working in aged care can have HUGE stigma attached to it and that is what The Acorn Network is working towards changing (with your help and support).
So how do we challenge people like Dave?
- Know that Dave is adding value.
He is highlighting issues within the sector that aren't working - BUT this is coming across as instinctive and ingrained in our aged care culture that negativity seems to just breed.
- Ask more questions.
Dave may not be saying that this approach won't work. "Given the priorities to improve access to skills, understand the workforce knowledge, and improve our problem solving ability, isn't this the part of the solution?" Continue to ask questions, seek their opinion. You are providing them with an option to give more knowledge, but also be part of the solution. As well, you are showing them they are smart, and you care about what they think.
- Share your experiences and knowledge.
Know that not everyone is going to agree with you - and that's OK! Healthy discussion and disagreements will help you grow as a leader.
- Be brave and draw on the strength of those around you.
Dave or his friend might come back and challenge you further. Get advice from mentors, ask people you trust, or send us an email. Stick to you guns, don't get too emotional. Then rinse and repeat steps one and two.
We need to be able to show the world that we value our career, our workplaces, and the people we care for. Without voicing this loudly and proudly, we are just giving in to the negative stereotypes that are so prevalent about the industry.
It's time we stop letting people like Dave be the dominant voice. It's time we were confident in our ability to shake the status quo and say "I value what I do and YOU sir are WRONG."