Fortis Consulting is assisting Brightwater Care Group and Juniper – A Uniting Church Community, to deliver a major and ongoing change initiative. Funded by a Social Innovation Grant, the Culture, Communication and Relationships at Work (CCRW) program aims to strengthen the skills of care and support workers and their supervisors across these facilities, and more broadly across the Australian aged care and disability services sectors.
Brightwater Care Group is one of the largest and best known providers of residential accommodation in Western Australia with 23 facilities located from Joondalup to Mandurah. Brightwater’s care services fall into two categories, Services for Older People and Services for Younger People – with additional and extensive At Home services available to people of all ages in need of support.
With 1400 staff and 500 volunteers providing services to over 4000 people, Juniper is another prominent WA aged care and disability services provider, also one of the largest in the state. Formerly Uniting Church Homes – Juniper is part of the UnitingCare Network.
In 2012 Brightwater in partnership with Juniper, engaged Fortis Consulting to design and develop a program for fostering cultural competence and engagement across its culturally diverse workforce.
The aged care and disability service sectors in Australia face complex and growing challenges in managing a workforce with increasing numbers of newly arrived refugees and migrants. Furthering the industry’s cultural complexities, its multicultural workforce services a growing, culturally diverse client group.
Fortis undertook in-depth research including focus groups, interviews and surveys to identify areas that needed addressing in community organisations. The resulting data was then used to develop the innovative CCRW program which – using an underpinning emotional intelligence approach – aims toimprove relationship-building skills to reduce the communication barriers posed by cultural and language differences. Benefits include:
To ensure the sustainability of the CCRW program within these organisations (and more broadly, across the industry), a full course has been designed to address the very significant challenges which exist. In September 2013 the program materials were officially launched by The Hon. Terry Redman – Minister for Training and Workforce Development – and are now available electronically free of charge, or to purchase at printing cost price from WestOne.
Following positive feedback and results from the initial pilot programs, both Brightwater and Juniper intend to roll the CCRW program out more broadly across their organisations in coming years. There has also been considerable interest from other community sector organisations.