Hands-on way to boost aged care results

TAFE aged care students will complete their entire course at Lyndoch Living in Warrnambool as part of moves to address an influx of inexperienced staff and graduates.

South West TAFE students will start coursework at the aged care home later this month over a 20-week period. The new program is thought to be the only one of its kind in Victoria.

Lyndoch chief executive Rhys Boyle said courses were increasingly focusing on theory, rather than practical experience. "That's the realisation a lot of training has gone to the institution-based TAFEs or universities and what we've seen is there's been a drop in the practical skills of the staff," Mr Boyle said.

"They're coming out very well qualified but with little practical experience ... you can never replace experience."

Mr Boyle said 22 students in the first intake would be trained by "core staff" working and studying at the facility for six to eight months.

Students will still be taught a theory component.

The change of teaching style comes as demand for aged care services skyrocket.

"The waiting list for our community services are into triple figures, people living in their own homes waiting for care type services," Mr Boyle said.

"The number of beds are growing, the number of care packages we are providing in the community are growing and we've got a massive waiting list in that area."

South West TAFE chief executive Peter Heilbuth said the changes would increase the chances of graduates finding work.

"They are getting experience on the job, they are getting a qualification and they may well get picked up for employment beyond the training," Mr Heilbuth said.

The course will run three days a week over nine months. Student fees will remain the same while the program will be funded by South West TAFE.

Student Rebecca McCann is one of the first group anticipating the new classroom.

"I was wanting to study in aged care because it's a booming industry. I don't really know what I'm in for but it will be more hands on," she said.

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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