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Managing Food Safety Training In Aged Care

by Andrew Thomson on August 2, 2018



You might say Cherie Hugo is on a mission….

In fact, you might say that this passionate dietitian is on more of a quest to improve nutrition and good eating and food choices offered in the aged care sector.

Now Hugo is turning her attention to issues of food safety with an upcoming workshop Food Safety in Aged Care in Sydney.

It is anticipated that issues around employee training and specifically in food safety will be discussed. They must. These are important issues that have been ignored by many in this sector and it is an area of risk where aged care facilities are vulnerable.

The risks….

The simple fact is many aged care managers are still focused on generic compliance approaches and this poses a significant challenge for their business and others in the broader sector.

It is no longer a question of acquiring information and facts and then being tested to see what you can recall. It involves demonstrating, in a quite specific way, that you can perform tasks to a standard of performance.

Aged care managers introduce food safety training to raise a level of awareness of their employees about compliance issues and the expected standards of behaviour. Often this training is face-to-face and it may be ineffective, if it includes too much complex information, or focuses too much on the law and not enough on behaviour.

Increasingly more facilities are turning to e-learning to deliver food safety (and work health and safety) compliance training; however, in my industry consultations and discussions with senior food regulators, these operations are not making progress in managing risk this way. For many operations, it’s like herding as many employees as they can and then ‘box ticking’ – measuring the number of employees trained.

The way forward……

No one would argue that a basic training program is critical for the ultimate success of any employee in order for them to be able to perform their job well. If that is true then an ongoing training program would promote a greater understanding of food safety and its management and would send a strong message to your staff and customers that you are committed to doing business better.

It’s important to share your overall business strategy with your employees because it provides a glimpse into your perspective and your intended goals and direction for your facility or aged care organisation.

A well trained and knowledgeable employee is not only the best insurance for a healthy operation but provides your employees with information and skills that allow them to play a greater role. This type of training raises the status of the job, eliminates serious incidents, and tends to reduce staff turnover because workers feel they are part of something important and are recognised for their contribution. Employees that are not adequately trained cannot be expected to perform at the level that will be required of them.

As a manager, it’s important to focus on a solid training program coupled with hands on supervision to reinforce the information this is discussed in Training: Making Connections To The Workplace

The right training program will motivate employees to excel in their job and contribute to the success of your aged care facility.

Most of your employees will learn by doing and by practising skills as they perform their daily tasks.

When people develop confidence, they automatically become proactive, solutions-focused and this has a positive flow on effect on all employees across the operation.

Make sure you take the time to look at the Vlog The Competent Food Handler which I released as part of a conference presentation to food regulators attending the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Health National Conference. The Vlog provides clear and definitive advice for food service operations.

Remember, if you are continuing with dated approaches and not taking a strategic approach of providing your employees with high quality training and (skills) development, you can bet that your competitor is.

What are your food safety training challenges? Contact Andrew Thomson

Image: Think ST Solutions

Aged care facility: Lutheran Homes Glynde (South Australia)