Digital literacy for effective work online

The ability to use digital technologies and the internet to find information and communicate involves a form of literacy known as digital literacy.

Smartphones, smart watches, computers, cars — the online world is very much a part of the real world. Being digitally literate in your business, employment and personal life is now essential.

The coronavirus pandemic fast-tracked and increased the need for digital literacy, with an enormous uptake of digital technologies for working from home and connecting across the world. It’s not a bad thing though — individuals and organisations across a variety of sectors can use digital literacy to optimise their communication, productivity and approach to work and education. With a little know how, your business can use digital and online tools to reach your goals sooner and run your business more efficiently.

Improve your digital literacy and thrive

Improve your digital literacy for a range of benefits for your business (and your personal life), including:

Better access to information

Being able to use digital software and leverage the power of the internet can give you access to more ways to gain information, both professionally and personally. Improving your digital literacy gives you access to more resources than ever before to enhance the way you run your business. As your digital literacy expands, so does your knowledge.

Connect more effectively

Email, phone, text, video conferencing — there are so many options to connect with colleagues, friends and family. Texts are fast and informal and great for short messages or if you need to know something quickly. Using video conferencing platforms for personal face-to-face connection or support, and feel comfortable enough to ask the questions you really want to know.

Enhanced appeal

Your willingness to tackle new things and ability to navigate digital platforms shows that your business is ahead of the pack. Being open to technology and the capabilities of the internet is a strength in our modern world.

Getting to know digital and online tools

Communicate, learn, plan, coordinate and explore — there’s an app, program or tool for just about anything. It’s impossible to know how to use them all, but being competent in a few of the most commonly used platforms will go a long way. Plus, you can generally apply your skills across many once you have the idea. Understand the ways digital platforms may be used, which are popular and what’s expected of you when using them.

Video conferencing

Though it’s been used in businesses and homes for many years, video conferencing has been incredibly useful and popular during 2020 to give us access to a face-to-face communication experience without leaving our homes. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Meet — there are countless platforms to use so we can see one another, talk to one another and even share our screens. This makes learning, working and staying connected accessible with nothing more than a computer or phone and an internet connection.

File sharing

Sharing and storing files can use a lot of space, but there are many online places who are happy to share some space with you. OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive­ — there are plenty of options to choose from when you need to share a big file or many files, or if you want to store your files somewhere and provide select others (or anyone) with access to them.

Email etiquette

Hardly a new technology, email has been used personally and professionally since the 1990s. In today’s workplaces and educational settings, email is vital and used frequently and has long replaced the fax. Emails are used for sending messages, invitations, files, images and links. Good email etiquette can impact how you are seen by others, so it’s important to get it right.

  • Use clear subject lines: Keeping email communications efficient and easy to find is best achieved with clear subject lines that stick to the topic of their contents.
  • Check your spelling and grammar: Professionalism is a must via email, and correct spelling and grammar showcase your communication skills and attention to detail. Avoid emojis and text shorthand (brb, lol, thx) as a general rule. Personal email? Feel free to have a little fun!
  • Assess the email trail before forwarding: Forwarding an email can be very efficient, but keep in mind that not every piece of information may be appropriate for the next recipient. Check through the email trail of replies before forwarding it on.
  • Make note of attachments: If you’re attaching a file to your email, let the recipient know. And similarly, if you’re telling your recipient there’s an attachment, don’t forget to attach it before sending.

Quick tips for building digital literacy

If you’re not yet confident about your digital literacy, open your mind to learning. It’s not as overwhelming as it looks to become online savvy and with some time and patience you can reap the rewards for managing and communicating with employees, searching, storing and presenting information and collaborating with your teams in digital spaces.

Jump in and try

Don’t be afraid! Download a couple of apps, visit a few websites you’ve heard about and just explore. Just use your common sense, like avoiding entering payment details or testing out sending features with anything private.

Set goals

Doing everything at once might just end up confusing. Break your goals down and celebrate the smaller wins. You’ll be doing it all in no time.

Ask for help

With so many apps and devices to be across, it’s not surprising if you can’t get your head around a couple. It’s great to ask for help — that’s the best way to learn.

It’s good to know that once you begin to improve your digital literacy, it gets easier to expand your know-how very quickly. When you’re getting started, be patient with yourself and forgiving if you take a little longer to get the hang of things.

Before you know it you will be running a glitch-free Zoom session with ease.

 

Thinking about heading back to study in your later 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s? This means you will be returning as a mature age student. If it’s been a while since you last studied, whether it was in high school or undertaking a course, you might feel a little nervous. But there’s no need to worry – it’s not as daunting as it sounds.

Studying as a mature age student doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you choose a course that is best suited to your goals and circumstances.

There are many reasons to return to study, and gaining a new qualification might enable you to take the next step in your career. When deciding on an appropriate course you might ask yourself a few questions, like:

  • Does this course offer flexible learning?
  • Does this course suit my needs and aspirations?
  • Will this course lead to rewarding career progression?

Once you’ve answered these questions you might consider some strategies which will help you ease back into learning. It’s never too late to return to study, and there are plenty of simple and effective ways to make the process easier.

Choose flexible learning

A good way to achieve a healthy balance between life and study is to choose a course with options for flexible learning. The transition to online learning fast-tracked by the pandemic has made accessing education a lot easier for many people, and there are a wide range of benefits to studying online. For one thing, your schedule is up to you which makes it far easier to manage study with work or family commitments.

Flexible learning doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on practical training or support either. Catalyst’s registered training organisations have a dedicated team of trainers and professionals who support you every step of the way, and connect you to all the resources you need.

Get organised

Organisation and planning are the keys to managing a busy schedule, and if you have a lot on your plate it might be a good idea to get everything ready before your course commences. This might look like:

  • Preparing for study by purchasing materials like books and stationery
  • Understanding what is expected of you in terms of assessment
  • Taking note of key dates
  • Arranging child care
  • Adding study time into your weekly routine
  • Planning your work roster around study dates
  • Familiarising yourself with the online learning portal and any computer programs or technology that will help you to learn

With a little planning, you can ensure your transition to studying will be as smooth as possible.

Reach out for support

Remember that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, with the right trainer support is never far away. Your learning and wellbeing are the number one priority at Catalyst RTOs, and we encourage learners to take advantage of services designed to ensure you feel capable and supported. We have Learner Success Teams so learners have the opportunity to ask questions, discuss challenges to help identify solutions to any issues you might face. The types of things the Learner Success Teams can help with are:

  • Language support, including for those who may not have English as their first language
  • Study tips for success
  • Advice on how to maximise your learning potential
  • Literacy and numeracy support
  • Assistance with securing placement and preparing your resume

Taking advantage of support services means RTOs working together with learners to maximise the learning experience.

Embrace technology

Technology is something we cannot live without, but for some of us learning how to use it feels like a difficult, daunting or downright terrifying task. Whether you’re tech-savvy or have trouble turning your phone on, embracing technology can be really helpful in terms of study.  If you’re worried, just remember that most of the technology used at quality RTOs is designed to be user-friendly. If you’re unsure how to use a program or device, don’t despair. Just ask for some help!

Returning to study could be the most rewarding thing you do and can change your life for the better. Catalyst’s RTOs specialise in aged care and early childhood education courses for those starting out right through to experienced individuals wanting to upskill. They also have a range of short courses that can level up your knowledge and skillset.

Head to our RTO websites to learn more about our course offerings and discover the fulfilment that can come from studying as a mature aged learner.

Each year International Women’s Day is acknowledged on 8 March with the mission of celebrating women across the world. It is a time to recognise how far we have come in the pursuit of gender equality but also how far we still have to go.

The message is clear: Women’s rights are human rights, and International Women’s Day encourages communities to reflect on how we can continue to do better.

Did you know that in 1911 only eight countries across the globe allowed women to vote? And while today we strive to achieve equal pay for men and women, equal work was unlikely, with women often denied the opportunity to enter the workforce.

In Australia, conversations are happening along with a gradual change toward equality in many areas. It’s exciting to know that today there are many women who feel they have not encountered discrimination or faced barriers to achieve success in their lives. Unfortunately that is not the experience of all women.

International Women’s Day is a call to action to stand up for women across the globe. This includes women who are further marginalised due to ethnicity, disability, religion and sexuality.

Women’s crucial contribution to the workforce and community

Caring, compassionate, talented, professional women fulfil the majority of care roles in Australia — a fact that should not be taken for granted.

At Catalyst Education’s RTOs we have seen many people make incredible and inspiring contributions to early childhood education and aged care, with the majority of these being women.

Their work changes lives for the better — laying the foundation for children to have the best start in life, and supporting the elderly to live with dignity as they age.

Challenging gender stereotypes in aged care and early childhood

In a gender-equal world we can provide more opportunities to reinforce the fact that caring is a human response of which both men and women are capable of. Gender equality can enable us to work together to make a difference.

Even in Australia, gender stereotypes continue to have an impact on career choices for both women and men. While providing care and the desire to help and make a difference to the wellbeing of others is a human quality evident across all genders, care roles are still typically viewed as roles for women.

While around 30 percent of aged recipients are men, only 10 percent of carers in the sector are male. Female aged care workers make up approximately 90 percent of the sector’s workforce. This significantly high percentage of women in aged care roles is similar across all western countries.

Meanwhile, early childhood education in Australia is equally available to young boys and girls, yet when it comes to the workforce, around 97 percent of educators are women. That leaves as little as three percent of educators who are male.

The movement behind days like International Women’s Day help us to empower women to reach their fullest potential as a human being, not just as a women.

Our thanks to women on IWD 2022

Women are a vital part of our team as trainers, support staff and leaders. This International Women’s Day, and every day, we send our thanks to all women. To the women we work with, we acknowledge the brilliant work you accomplish and the immense contribution you make.

At Catalyst, we will continue to support women to find the right career for them and succeed at every level across the workforce and in our communities.

 

As schools return for 2022, the Victorian Government’s Head Start traineeship program will make its mark on the early childhood education sector.

Head Start Apprenticeship Traineeship Program is supporting essential sectors like early childhood education to develop a highly skilled workforce while also allowing young people to make a start on their careers while completing their schooling.

Catalyst RTO Selmar is proud to be the partnering early childhood education course provider for the Head Start Apprenticeship Traineeship Program.

What is the Head Start Apprenticeship Traineeship Program?

Head Start is a new education pathway enabling secondary school students to make a start on vocational training. The program helps students to develop skills and experience that are valued by employers to students to get the best start in their careers.

Designed for students who are currently completing secondary school, Head Start presents the opportunity for young people to complete their Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) or Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) while undertaking paid on-the-job training that leads to a vocational qualification.

The Head Start Apprenticeship Traineeship Program recognises that students learn in different ways, have different passions and can empower them to make their own career choices.

As a school-based traineeship, Head Start tailors vocational qualifications to make it achievable for students to complete their secondary school studies, as well as vocational training and paid practical training.

Rather than leave school to pursue a qualification and employment, students can continue to complete their secondary schooling while gaining the confidence, capabilities and skills needed to thrive in growth sectors such as early childhood education.

How Head Start supports Early Childhood Education services

Trainees can be a valuable addition to your early childhood education workforce. Traineeships present an advantageous opportunity for employers in early childhood education who seek to effectively train staff on the job within their workplace environment. This means the chance to develop the ideal team for your workplace from their commencement of training and beyond.

The Head Start Apprenticeship Traineeship Program matches your early learning service to a committed trainee. From there, you will be provided with one-on-one support from the Head Start Coordinator.

The Head Start Coordinator will assist you by creating a Head Start Pathway Plan for your trainee that is tailored to your centre. A trainee will be supported through their CHC30121 Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care coursework. This means you can enjoy the benefits of adding a passionate trainee to your team, without disruption to the way you like to run your centre.

Head Start is an opportunity for your early childhood education service to grow, training employees to meet the needs and standards of your business, improving retention along the way.

Selmar’s partnership with Head Start

The team at Selmar is committed to supporting young people in becoming future-ready and for the early childhood education sector to build a high quality, talented workforce. As such, Selmar is excited to be partnering with Head Start as an approved early childhood education and care training provider.

The experienced team of trainers at Selmar will be delivering quality training and conducting practical placement observation to maximise the outcomes for all involved with Head Start.

Head Start is focused on empowering young people to make a difference in the meaningful early childhood education sector. For early learning services, highly skilled and confident employees are always sought after and Head Start trainees will be equipped with the training and practical experience to thrive.

Get in touch with Selmar to learn more about Head Start.

Reflecting as the year ends and a new one begins is something that many of us do. We assess what went right, what wasn’t so great, what worked, what didn’t work and so on. What will you do differently next year, and what brought fulfilment to your year?

If 2021 has left you feeling depleted, or like you didn’t quite achieve what you set out to, you’re not alone. For many, it wasn’t quite the year they had in mind. However, taking the time to reassess and set some realistic goals can be an effective way of moving forward in a positive way. Now is the perfect time to start setting yourself up for success in 2022.

Reasons why we set goals

New year’s resolutions, fitness targets, savings plans — as human beings, goal setting seems to come naturally to many of us.

We can set goals for a range of reasons, and it’s usually a combination of these:

  • Finding motivation
  • Improving your current situation
  • Getting through your ‘wish list’ or ‘to do list’ in life
  • Helping get to your next step
  • Keeping yourself accountable

The SMART approach to goal setting

Of course, it’s one thing to set goals, but what can we do to help ourselves actually achieve them? You can approach goal setting in many ways — think of it personally, stick a note on your bathroom mirror, post it publicly to social media, team up with a friend. It’s important to find an approach that best suits you and seems to help you get the results you are striving for.

One particular approach that is highly regarded to improve your chance at succeeding in reaching your goals is taking the SMART approach. To be clear, that is an acronym, with SMART standing for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Let’s take a closer look at each of these:

  • Specific: What do you want to accomplish and what needs to be done?
  • Measurable: How will you track your progress on achieving this goal?
  • Achievable: Know what is required to achieve the goal and be sure that it can be done based on any potential constraints.
  • Relevant: Is it worthwhile, is this the right time and what will I get from accomplishing it?
  • Time-bound: Work toward a deadline. When do you want to complete this goal and what mini-deadlines will help create a feasible timeline to get there.

Whether you want to run 5 kilometres in a certain time frame, or you are aiming to learn to play a song on guitar, using the SMART methodology is an excellent way to frame your goal setting.

The value of goal setting to fulfil potential

When we set goals, we are demonstrating hope for the future. We are foreshadowing a better version of ourselves and a journey of growth that we are excited for. As well as motivating us to get from where we are to where we want to be, goals can also contribute to improved mental health and wellbeing.

You can use the power of goal setting in a variety of settings each with unique outcomes. You might apply goals to your career, education, finances, family, physical health, mental health, creative endeavours, public service, relationships and more.

The combination of goal setting mobilising us to take action and improving our performance as we strive to achieve the goals can increase our ability to reach our potential and lead a fulfilling life where we continually move forward.

We’re here to support you in achieving your goals

If you’ve been considering where you are now and where you want to be, it’s possible that you are thinking about a new career path, ways to improve your business or how to better support those around you.

From new careers to upskilling workforces and training entire teams, Catalyst’s registered training organisations can support your journey and help you start making those goals a reality

From JobKeeper to JobSeeker, followed by JobMaker, the COVID-19 economic response from the government at federal and state level, has been focused on supporting Australians to find and keep jobs.

The next funding initiative is JobTrainer — a $2 billion dollar funding initiative designed to support young Australians in gaining the skills required to access work, while supporting employers to keep these young, skilled individuals in jobs. If you’re finding it hard to keep up with which funding scheme means what and for who, you’re not alone. This article looks at JobTrainer, including what is on offer, when it is available from and until, and who is eligible to benefit from it.

What is JobTrainer?

Targeting younger individuals aged from 17 – 24 years old, JobTrainer focuses on getting young Australians equipped with skills, qualifications and careers. The funding initiatives sees the federal and state governments teaming up to subsidise training costs, enabling eligible individuals to take on further study with either low-fee or no fee at all.

The JobTrainer funding will cover accredited certificates, diplomas and short courses as per an agreed list of qualifications which have been chosen due to their anticipated employment growth. By doing this, those who train under the JobTrainer funding initiative have a better chance of gaining qualifications in a role that will have excellent job prospects now and in the future.

Training places under JobTrainer are available now, meaning eligible individuals can already access the free or low-fee training in areas that have been identified as in need of skilled workers. Sectors like healthcare and aged care, disability care and early childhood education are included, requiring individuals who have pursued high quality training to meet demand. Courses in these areas can be accessed through selected RTOs (Registered Training Organisations), including at Catalyst’s RTOs.

JobTrainer eligibility and who will benefit

JobTrainer funding offers subsidies that cover half of the wage of eligible trainees to the workplaces who employ them. Importantly, employers do not need to have reduced turnover in their business to be eligible, unlike JobKeeper, and the subsidy is available to workplaces with up to 200 employees. These subsidies encourage businesses to employ and retain more trainees and shape a highly skilled workforce.

Younger people who are unemployed or have just left school, can take advantage of JobTrainer for a great opportunity to make a start toward a career in a booming sector.

To be able to access a free or low-fee course via JobTrainer, individuals must fulfil the criteria and be:

  • An Australian citizen, permanent resident, New Zealand citizen or asylum seeker, and
  • Between 17 and 24 years old when your course commences; or
  • A job seeker of any age. A job seeker is defined as a person who holds a current Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card or Veteran’s Gold Card or is unemployed.

Some individuals who have not been eligible for the previous funding initiatives may be eligible for JobTrainer, even if they possess existing qualifications. JobTrainer does not have the ‘two at a level in a lifetime’ limit like other funding initiatives. For example, if a person has already completed a VET certificate as part of secondary schooling, or a school-based traineeship they may still be eligible to undertake further study with the support of JobTrainer. There are also no upskilling requirements, so it could be the right time to pursue an entirely fresh career.

Take a look at the full eligibility document here.

What courses are included under JobTrainer?

With JobTrainer backing you, individuals can pursue a meaningful career in early childhood education or a fulfilling career in aged care, supporting some of our community’s most vulnerable individuals.

For those who would prefer to earn and learn at the same time, a traineeship could be the way to go — this means they can study while working, learning on the job and applying theory while proceeding through their chosen qualification.

There are flexible study options available for courses too, meaning you can adapt your training to your existing commitments. Practical placement is included to ensure you gain the confidence and capabilities required to succeed in your chosen field regardless of the delivery mode you choose.

Course options include:

Early childhood education and care

Aged care

JobTrainer: helping to shape a highly skilled workforce

Both aged care and early childhood education give young Australians the opportunity to pursue a meaningful career in a booming sector where they can make a valuable difference to the lives of others each and every day.

With the support of JobTrainer funding and our supportive trainers, your workforce can reach its full potential.

 

To support educators and ECEC services in enhancing school readiness, the Victorian Government has announced a kinder funding boost for not-for-profit sessional kindergarten programs across the state. This also supports families by giving them access to free kindergarten in response to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sessional kindergarten will remain free for eligible services following the announcement of additional funding to support children as they transition to school. It has been a tough year for many families and early childhood services, with the coronavirus pandemic resulting in personal challenges, centre closures, employment uncertainty, job losses and more.

Children, parents and educators have worked hard to keep learning through play even when early childhood education and care services were not accessible and this new funding is set to provide additional help to ensure that children are school-ready.

Kinder funding boost to maximise Term 4 outcomes

Early childhood education’s vital role in communities is recognised and bolstered by the Government’s announcement of $26.7 million in extra funding for Term 4. This funding is intended to ensure kindergartens have the resources needed to maximise school readiness for children.

Services have worked hard to support families and staff throughout the year and have put immense effort into COVIDSafe plans to ensure safe access to early childhood services for all families and educators. Around 1,700 kindergartens will share in over $3.7 million committed to early childhood education and care service for Term 4 this year.

Kinder funding boost to support school readiness

In addition to this free kindergarten initiative, eligible early childhood education services will have access to School Readiness Funding. Transitioning from kindergarten to school is a momentous time in a child’s life. School Readiness Funding is to support educators in equipping children for this transition to formal schooling.

This school readiness initiative enables services in Victoria offering a funded kindergarten program to access funding for a range of approved programs from the School Readiness Funding menu that have been proven to enhance children’s school readiness.

Whether your service is a funded kindergarten program only or a long day care centre with a funded kindergarten program, you will be eligible receive the school readiness funding. The Department should contact your service to let you know what your funding allocation will be and when you can access it. Program offerings under the School Readiness Funding include:

  • programs and services that target speech, language and literacy
  • allied health (speech therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists)
  • programs and services that support trauma informed practice, secure attachment and mental health
  • resources and programs to support the social and emotional wellbeing of children
  • support for cultural and linguistically diverse children and families
  • support for parents to support their child’s development.

When choosing how to spend your funding allocation, take care to consider the needs and gaps in your kindergarten program.

How your ECEC service and children will benefit

The funding for Victorian kindergarten programs will allow them to create more hours, additional educator hours for extra transition activities, facilitate more one-on-one time with children and other case-by-case needs that will improve children’s readiness to start primary school. Services don’t need to apply for these kinder funding initiatives and will receive communication of their funding entitlements.

For more information about the funding boost for not-for-profit sessional kindergarten programs, head here. To find out when your region can expect School Readiness Funding, click here. See the full media release in regard to Term 4 kindergarten funding in Victoria here.

The challenges of this year have the potential to bring about setbacks for children’s learning and development, including repercussions well into the future for children’s education.

Thankfully, these funding initiatives for kindergartens across Victoria recognise these challenges and seek to help children make up for lost time in 2020 and continue to thrive at kindergarten and well into their formal years of primary school and beyond.

 

The aged care sector is set to experience significant changes and growth in the foreseeable future,  with a strong focus towards the standard of care being provided.

As we plan for the future for aged care, it’s essential that there are highly skilled carers to meet demand and provide quality care. The challenges of this year and the COVID-19 pandemic have been unprecedented, with aged care recipients among the most vulnerable to suffering. Many lessons have been learned during 2020 which, along with the Aged Care Royal Commission and its recommendations, will go a long way to create a future for the aged care sector that is more caring than ever before. For carers, a focus on training and better support will see the aged care workforce equipped and ready to provide quality care to those who need it most.

Inspiring compassion in every carer

The importance of high-quality aged care and highly trained carers has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has exposed flaws in the sector, it has also demanded action in order to protect the vulnerable and elderly who rely on aged care and the carers who are committed to their role.

The carers throughout our aged care sector give so much and do remarkable work each and every day. The importance of this workforce has never been so clear and so valued as it has been of late. The workers in Australia’s aged care residential facilities as well as those providing home care and community care work tirelessly to ensure that elderly members of our communities are supported. The kindness, care and compassion displayed in their dedication to their work makes aged care workers worthy of our gratitude and admiration.

Quality care key to aged care future

A skilled workforce across aged care is essential to deliver the highest standard of care. And while carers continue to do their best to look after those in need, the sector has not been adequately supported to help them thrive. The future of aged care is set to be brighter though, with the Royal Commission COVID-19 report recommendations as well as a renewed focus on infection control.

With additional funding to reinforce aged care’s infection control measures and changes in motion to enhance access to infection control training for staff, the aged care sector is set to reinvigorate its workforce and add confidence for residents, staff and communities.

Recommendations: Aged Care Royal Commission

The Aged Care Royal Commission COVID-19 report notes that the pandemic has been the biggest challenge ever faced by the aged care sector — approximately three out of four COVID-19 deaths in Australia occurred in aged care. It makes six recommendations that are intended to ensure the aged care sector and its workforce are adequately prepared to protect its staff and residents in the case of any future outbreaks. All six recommendations, paraphrased below, have been accepted by the government and will contribute to developing a deeply caring aged care sector supported by valued carers.

Recommendation 1

Government will report to Parliament on the implementation of the recommendations by 1 December 2020.

Recommendation 2 – Visitors and quality of life

Government should immediately approve funding applications from providers who wish to ensure there are adequate staff to support visitation to aged care residents by their loved ones.

Recommendation 3 – Allied health

Medicare Benefits Schedule items to increase the provision of allied health services, including mental health services, to people in aged care during the pandemic.

Recommendation 4 – An aged care plan and advisory body

A national aged care plan for COVID-19 should be established through the National Cabinet in consultation with the aged care sector that provides a national advisory body for aged care and establishes protocols to manage outbreaks while maintaining quality of life for residents.

Recommendation 5 – Infection control expertise and personal protective equipment

All residential aged care homes should have one or more trained infection control officers as a condition of accreditation.

Recommendation 6

All states and territories should have accredited infection prevention and control experts deployed into residential aged care facilities to train staff.

Once actioned, these recommendations will spark a transformation within aged care — a welcome shift for all carers and recipients of care.

The rewards and challenges for an aged carer

If a career with purpose is your goal, aged care is a worthwhile path to follow. It’s important to understand that a career as a carer in the aged care sector can be demanding, but it is also meaningful and rewarding.

As a carer for the elderly or those living with disability, the can be quite physically strenuous, with lots of time spent on your feet and assisting the elderly or those living with disability. There are also emotional challenges involved. At times a carer will face people in their care who are unwilling to accept the support, may be upset or agitated or are having psychological issues which can make it difficult to provide the necessary care. In an aged care career there may be times when you experience the illness or passing of individuals in your care which can be distressing but you will have a firm understanding of how to work through this situation through your training and with the support of colleagues and employers.

The rewards working as a carer are generally agreed to surpass the demands of the job, with the aged care sector offering the opportunity to gain a remarkable appreciation of life. Working in aged care, carers build meaningful relationships with those in their care and work with the knowledge that they are having a genuine and positive impact on someone’s quality of life. Aged care career outcomes offer room to grow within the sector, with aged care careers evolving to manager positions, or stepping into lifestyle support as a care program coordinator or similar.

Everything we do at Catalyst is inspired by care and compassion. The future of aged care is heading in the same direction, with a renewed focus to enhance the role of the carer and quality of life for those in need. For those seeking a career in the sector, the changes in the works within aged care deliver the opportunity to truly appreciate the dynamic and rewarding nature of a carer’s work, bringing the care back into aged care.

To learn about to get started in a career in aged care, contact us today.

 

The reopening of early childhood education and care services after a challenging lockdown period has brought about a sense of relief for many in the sector, including owners, directors and educators.

Families and children have experienced the upheaval too, and it’s safe to say that everyone is happy to be back to their routines supported by early childhood education services.

To open safely and protect the health of our communities (and continue to stay open), each early childhood education provider is required to have a COVIDSafe plan in place. Government health experts have continually found that transmission risk in childcare settings is low and are confident that staff and children are safe as long as heath advice is followed.

Prioritising health and safety

Children’s safety is always high priority in early childhood education and care settings, meaning that providers are well-positioned to action the COVIDSafe guidelines and create safe spaces. The health advice from the government and authorities has been carefully designed to keep staff, children and families safe and well.

Infection control and prevention measures, along with creating a supportive environment to take care of the wellbeing of your staff, families and children enable early childhood centres to return to care safely and confidently.

COVIDSafe ECEC services: A four step framework

Each service is different and the government information highlights that a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate, but following the guidelines outlined in the framework will help you to minimise transmission risk and maintain the highest standard of care possible.

The framework centres around these four areas, which we have unpacked for you below:

Reinforce COVIDSafe behaviours

COVID-19 is well-known to spread predominantly through face-to-face interactions, as well as transmission being possible via contaminated surfaces. With this in mind, these six key elements must be implemented and reinforced in centres.

  1. Stay home when unwell: If a member of staff or a child is unwell, they should be advised to stay home until they are well. This can stop any potential spread through communities to keep everyone safe. Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus should get tested and of course there are other steps to follow in the case of a positive result, which we cover later in the framework.
  2. Temperature testing: Temperature testing is not currently required but may be required in the future should community transmission in Victoria increase again.
  3. Actively support and practice good hygiene: Hand sanitiser stations upon entry are a useful to keep germs out of the centre. Make times for regular hand-washing during the day. Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and wash hands afterwards. Drinking fountains are not advised — bring individual drink bottles that are named and can be refilled as needed, and food sharing should be avoided.
  4. Encourage physical distancing between adults: Physical distancing is challenging in certain spaces but aim for 1.5metres between adults where possible. Markers for safe distancing in reception and shared workspaces can be a useful visual reminder. Adults should avoid hand-shakes and hugs with one another. Use multiple entry and exit points or stagger start and finish times to reduce the number of people con
  5. Wear a face mask: In early childhood education settings staff can choose whether or not they wish to wear a mask while working with children. When staff are working in other areas of the centre, they are expected to wear masks, for example while working on reception, staff rooms and foyers. Parents and carers are also expected to wear face coverings when picking up and dropping off children.
  6. Avoid adults interacting within enclosed spaces: Limiting staff in rooms is necessary but can be tricky with the expectation to maintain staff ratios. Getting outside and even adapting indoor activities to become outdoor activities.

More on reinforcing COVIDSafe behaviours here.

Create COVIDSafe spaces

COVIDSafe spaces are spaces that make taking the necessary precautions to avoid infection easier. There are many things early childhood education services can put in place to achieve this: Easy access to hand sanitiser, regular cleaning schedule for surfaces, door handles and toys, increased ventilation (open windows) and a tendency to move outdoors whenever it is possible.

Workforce bubbles where the same staff are rostered together as often as possible can reduce transmission spread too and contribute to COVIDSafe spaces.

Further support to create COVIDSafe spaces here.

Promote COVIDSafe activities

To minimise risk in services, some activities may need to be altered or avoided. As a general rule, reducing the intermingling of children across different groups/rooms will help to lessen interactions between large numbers of staff and children. Activities that involve singing and wind instruments should be avoided at this time, and only essential visitors should attend services.

More information on COVIDSafe activities here.

Respond to COVID-19 risk

When it comes to a COVID-19 outbreak in your centre, a fast response is key. Knowing the symptoms and ensuring the families and staff at your service know them is vital. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills or sweats
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • loss or change in sense of smell or taste

Contact tracing is essential in the case of an outbreak — keep records of anyone who spends time in your centre. If a positive result occurs, follow the protocol as outlined in this fact sheet.

More detail to support your centre in responding to a COVID-19 risk here.

Keeping ECEC safe

By staying up to date on the latest important guidance on what is appropriate, we can all ensure that early childhood education services and their staff and families can remain COVIDSafe.

Research, data and advice can change as more comes to light about the coronavirus, its transmission and its current movement or behaviour within each community. You can find current health advice for early childhood education centres in Victoria here. Further guidelines for operation can be found here.

Sticking to the COVIDSafe framework will ensure that ECEC services can continue to support communities and that educators can continue to do their incredible work nurturing children’s development in a safe environment.

When supporting children’s development and wellbeing in early childhood education and beyond, emotional intelligence is a vital element that should be nurtured.

More than a person’s ability to get high marks at school, solve complex mathematics problems or utilise a big vocabulary, emotional intelligence involves a variety of qualities and skills that help people to understand and manage feelings.

As early childhood educators, a firm understanding of how to teach emotional intelligence to children is essential. There are so many benefits that can be derived from well-developed emotional intelligence at all stages of life. It’s also important for educators to develop their own emotional intelligence too. The more we focus on soft skills and the power of emotional intelligence, the bigger positive impact we can have on the quality of education delivered across early childhood education settings.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is centred around possessing the skills to understand, utilise and manage your individual feelings, as well as the capacity to understand and respond to the feelings of others. While an IQ (intelligence quotient) is widely known as an intelligence measure, emotional intelligence is often referred to as emotional quotient, or EQ.

Many researchers and theorists have explored broad views of intelligence, the first and perhaps most prominent was psychologist Howard Gardner in the 1980s. Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory proposes that there are just that — multiple intelligences, and that we are not born with them all developed or available but can develop them. Emotional intelligence harnesses a number of Gardner’s theorised types: intrapersonal intelligence (understanding the self) and interpersonal intelligence (understanding others).

Today, emotional intelligence is considered to be highly valuable, enabling people to use feelings to guide their patterns of thought and their behaviours. It can also be useful to identify, respond to and predict the feelings and actions of others, for effective communication and relationship-building.

Benefits of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence can help people of all ages to develop skills that are valuable throughout education, relationships, employment and just about every aspect of life.

The benefits of emotional intelligence are far-reaching covering areas including the ability to:

  • Self-regulate emotions,
  • Communicate more effectively
  • Build strong relationships with others
  • Enhance empathy
  • Promote self-motivation
  • Improve the ability to listen and focus

With these powerful benefits in mind, it becomes clear just how impactful emotional intelligence can be for children.

Educators’ emotional intelligence

As well as being powerful for children, emotional intelligence is a crucial area of development for adults too. The opportunity to work on your emotional skillset is lifelong. For educators, focusing on your own emotional intelligence can help you to become the best educator possible.

Catalyst’s education approach is human-centred, enabling us to best support our learners’ emotional intelligence throughout the study journey. Role-modelling appropriate and positive behaviours is a huge part of supporting children’s development and wellbeing, and so we focus on growing emotional intelligence and soft skills for educators throughout their course.

All early childhood education learners are encouraged to engage with their learning in a meaningful way through self-reflection techniques facilitated in our Practical Placement Journals. This element of the coursework empowers learners to identify their own interpersonal and intrapersonal abilities and discover their full potential.

Strategies to teach emotional intelligence

Early childhood educators can play a crucial role in developing healthy emotional intelligence in children. They have the chance to develop in children the essential life skills associated with emotional intelligence, laying the lifelong foundation for children to flourish.

There are many ways to guide children to develop their emotional intelligence, such as:

Creating space for feelings

Feelings aren’t always convenient and you may not always understand why a child is feeling a certain way at a certain time. Despite this, when a child is experiencing emotions they should be validated. Connect with a child during these times and listen to what they are going through so that they too can gain insight into the experience.

Learning to identify emotions

Extending on the previous point, use the space created for feelings to encourage or support children to identify the emotion. Are they feeling sad or angry or embarrassed? Labelling emotions expands children’s emotional vocabulary. Further, identifying emotions is also useful for learning to read other people and what they might be feeling. Simple activities like showing children images of faces and helping them to identify the feelings the person might be having can be useful to build this skill.

Tools for handling feelings

Once a child can sit in their feelings and identify them, it’s easier for them to know what tools are available to handle the emotional experience. While all emotions are completely valid, not all behaviours and actions are acceptable so children (and adults) need to have strategies in mind to express their feelings in a safe and appropriate way. A simple one to utilise is deep breathing and mindfulness techniques.

Stories, songs, role play and role-modelling are all additional valuable educational endeavours to explore emotional intelligence. Through creating learning opportunities in early childhood education that lend themselves to the development of emotional intelligence in children, we can help to shape a more caring, kind and thoughtful future.

To learn more about our human-centred training, please contact us today.