Amid increasing costs in running aged care facilities, a Christchurch rest home chose to invest in training, including for their cleaning staff. They’re seeing the investment flow back through positive outcomes for their residents and for the overall business.

“We want to give everyone the opportunity to upskill, to train and to improve their self-value, their worth and confidence. Our cleaners are here for a long time but we don’t want to train people knowing that they’re not going anywhere. We want to train them so that if they leave, they have the skills to progress and do a great job,” said Jane Meeker, Training Coordinator for Archer Boutique Lifestyle Villages and Homes in Christchurch

An interesting and costly philosophy to uphold, but Meeker highlighted that cleaners are at the front line – preventing and fighting the spread of infection, and ensuring residents’ health and safety.

Jenny Watson, Cleaning Supervisor and Assessor said, “I notice that the team is really mindful of health and safety. It becomes more natural for them.”

Watson is in charge of ensuring that all cleaners are working within set standards, training them and supporting them to achieve a recognised NZQA qualification. She herself has worked her way to achieving qualifications in specialised infection control and cleaning supervision through Careerforce, the Industry Training Organisation for the health and wellbeing sectors.

“Education doesn’t finish at school and upskilling has given the team the confidence to believe in themselves,” Watson said.

“More people are recognising the importance of a trained cleaning staff. They contribute to ensuring the residents are healthy and well. Their role is an important part of the whole aged care and health system.” said Careerforce General Manager for Employer Services, Andrew Saunders.

Cleaning operators are clearly recognising this importance, with a 79% increase in cleaning qualification enrolments between 2014 and 2016, and over 300 enrolments in the specialist Contagion and Specialised Infection Control qualification in 2016.

“They are achieving better outcomes. They’re coming forward to management with their own ideas. We’re lifting the standards together,” Meeker said.

There are around 40, 000 cleaners and caretakers in New Zealand working in commercial or residential settings.

Find out more about Careerforce’s cleaning qualifications.

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