Aged Care Chefs need ongoing, practical training to continually develop specialist skills and keep up-to-date with the latest industry guidelines and safety protocols.
Liz Goldsmith, Hotel Service Manager at BlueCross, believes training shouldn’t be a tick-the-box exercise. “Training has to be real.”
BlueCross is one of the largest Aged Care providers in Victoria. Across Melbourne, BlueCross employs more than 390 hospitality staff who serve in excess of 10,000 meals and snacks a day. Liz is passionate about training and believes face-to-face live training is the best approach.
“Organisations invest a lot of time and effort into training. If training is to be effective and worthwhile, it needs to be interactive, meaningful and enjoyable.”
“Online training is good for some areas – such as compliance or basic theory. When it comes to gaining practical skills, people need practical, hands-on demonstrations. They need to do it for themselves.”
“Hospitality is a hands-on physical job, so the training has to be hands-on too.”
At BlueCross, training covers all aspects of hospitality from cleaning, laundry, customer service and the kitchen. In the kitchen, staff receive specialist training in all aspects of Aged Care catering and safety, from hand-washing, texture modification, to advanced culinary courses in chocolate making, cake decorating and authentic international cuisine.
Liz hosts a full calendar of training sessions from February to November including annual training, specialised workshops and training from visiting suppliers.
“We conduct Chef-to-Chef training programs, as Chefs need to learn from those with up-to-date experience who understand the work and speak the same language.”
The results of on-going, interactive live training are evident in key performance areas and employee engagement.
“You can see the difference it makes in audit results and accreditation performance, positive feedback from residents and staff satisfaction,” Liz explained. “Many staff come back year after year and their growing confidence in their work is easy to see.”
“Many people consider online training courses to be the way of the future, but many skills cannot be taught online, such as the new International Dysphagia Diets Standards.”
“Teaching the correct way to thicken drinks or puree foods for a Texture Modification diet is one example where face-to-face training is a must,” she said.
“An Aged Care Chef can’t learn what the correct consistency of a thickened drink is from an image or video alone. They need to be able to see it, taste it, and try it for themselves so they know how it should feel in the mouth.”
Liz believes training has to be fun and engaging to be memorable. “We all learn better when the information is provided in a novel way. So, we’ve developed card games, crosswords, interactive role plays. We have taught hand-washing using a cream that is only visible using an infrared light. Standing in the dark washing hands is quite amusing for everyone. If hands are not clean under the IR light, everyone gets the message about hand-hygiene.”
“Face-to-face training allows you to show someone how to do a specific task which is often faster and more effective than instructing them via a website or manual.”
“Online training can be harder for people who are less confident with technology. The majority of the workforce are older or have English as a second language. Computer literacy may not be as strong as their cooking skills.”
Training is often conducted by external expert educators. “We’ve had a fire-fighter come in to show the team how to prevent fires when cooking with oil and what to do if oil catches on fire.”
Liz has developed a comprehensive BlueCross Training manual which documents all the safety procedures and instructions for using the equipment. Images and icons make it an easy reference guide for people with English as a second language.
The company operates 33 residences in Victoria – caring for over 2,500 people. Processes and equipment have been streamlined as much as possible to be consistent across all sites, to simplify training resources and enable staff to work across different sites if required.
The training builds team morale too. In-house training is often a great way for colleagues to meet and get to know one another better. Staff come together for training, and enjoy comparing notes and learning from each other too. The programs are always enjoyable so staff have a positive feeling at the end.
“The investment and hard work we put into training are certainly worthwhile. It is so valuable for everyone to take time to learn something new and build confidence.”