Capecare and South Regional TAFE WA boost aged care workforce in regional community


May 2023

Aged care trainees boost regional community workforce

Beautiful Busselton, 230 km south of Perth, attracts many retirees seeking a relaxed coastal lifestyle. But that ageing demographic and regional location helps contribute to labour shortages.

How did Capecare, the largest independent aged care provider in the area, attract new staff for existing and planned facilities?
They partnered with South Regional TAFE to deliver an ‘intensive-start’ traineeship.

From 2020 to 2022, 24 trainees aged 19-59 years completed a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing), with all gaining employment as carers upon completion.

Community culture

The initial challenge of finding people to take up traineeships was helped by joint community engagement.

“We promoted the industry to the community, to change thinking about what aged care is.

TAFE is part of this community, we’re here to support its industries. Aged care is so important to the social fabric here, we couldn’t afford not to be involved.”

“We did recruitment drives with TAFE - marketing pieces, what a carer does, the career pathways from Certificate III into nursing qualifications.

South Regional TAFE are in it with us. There’s a significant industry-wide staff shortage and they’re a true partner in finding a local solution. They’ve taken a bigger role than other (RTOs) would’ve.”

Confidence in quality

Trainees spent their first semester at South Regional TAFE, like full-time students, and completed Capecare’s induction program, before progressing to onsite work-based learning.

“We have utmost confidence that our trainees came to us with the best skills foundation we can hope for. They’re ready to be on the floor. We’ve had trainees from other RTOs. The level of skills in comparison to what comes out of TAFE…well you just can’t compare it.

The lecturer is brilliant, with 20+ years’ experience in the industry. We had some older people already in hospitality or cleaning roles, who became care trainees. Going back to study can be daunting. But she was so supportive of them.

That’s the TAFE difference - the level of support. They really want to make sure that their student is going to get through. They’ll support them in whatever way is needed.”

Deep relationships

Capecare feel the South Regional TAFE team understand and are part of their culture, resulting in better outcomes for the trainees.

“They mould them into our Capecare picture. They know exactly what we want and need. They have a presence within our business. When (the lecturer) is on site doing assessments, all the staff know her, they know what she does. Past trainees say hi. She’s part of our family.”

“Part of why it works is that we’re thinking how they’re thinking. There’s a natural knowledge sharing, each learning from the other, to come up with workable solutions.

Challenges can be a focus for innovation. You need to be creative. Building communication, rapport, trust, respect from both sides - that’s when the magic happens.”

“We’ve built relationships to the point where, if anyone comes across an issue, it’s all very open. They give us a call, or we flick them an email. We come together to fix it. When it came time to consider a new model, we sat down together to analyse options. We value South Regional TAFE’s input so much that we make them part of the decision-making process for our business.

The program wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful if we’d partnered with anyone else.”