Support workers as agents for health behavior change: Perceptions of clients with complex needs, support workers and care coordinators

Sharon Lawn, Tania Westwood, Sarah Jordans, Julianne O'Connor

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


    Introduction & Purpose: The population is ageing in many countries.Enhancing community aged care support workers’role in self-management support is therefore timely. This paper presents perceptionsof impacts of training, delivered to 140 workers from five Australiancommunity aged care providers, designed to enhance their knowledge,skills and confidence to understand, recognize and respond to complexityand support behavior change. Central research question: Can supportworkers be taught motivational skills and apply them to supporting pos-itive behavior change in their aged care clients?Methods: Evaluation of training on communication, complexity, behaviorchange and self-management support involved pre/immediately post/3-month post training surveys with support workers (n=35/76/52) and coor-dinators (n=15/26/12), pre/post interviews clients (n=10/7) and focusgroups with support workers (n=24) and coordinator(s) (n=8) at the con-clusion of the project. Quantitative analysis of survey data and qualitativethematic analysis of interviews and focus groups was complimented withcase studies of interactions from practice.Results: Support workers reported greater awareness, skills and confidencein working with complexity, reinforcing the value of their existing practicesand skills. Coordinators reported greater appreciation of support workers’skills, and greater awareness of their support and supervision needs. Clients,support workers and coordinators reporting improved interactions with cli-ents, client health outcomes, care coordination, communication and team-work. Mental health literacy remained the biggest knowledge gap. Conclusions: Educators, policy makers and services should account forthese contributions, given growing fiscal restraint and focus on consumer-directed care. Support workers are ideally placed to motivate clients toachieve behavior change goals.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberO797
    Pages (from-to)S259-S260
    Number of pages2
    JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
    Issue numberSuppl 1
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
    EventInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine -
    Duration: 7 Dec 2016 → …


    • ageing
    • aged care support workers
    • motivational skills


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