Support workers as agents for health behaviour change: An Australian study of the perceptions of clients with complex needs, support workers and care coordinators
Lawn, Sharon Joy
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An expanding aging population has placed increased demands on health care resources in many countries. Enhancing community aged care support workers’ role to support greater client self-management and reablement is therefore timely. This article presents perceptions of the impact of an Australian practice change initiative designed to enhance knowledge, skills, and confidence of support workers to support behavior change in clients with complex health care needs. A comprehensive training program was delivered in 2013. Methods included thematic analysis of interviews with clients, focus groups with support workers and coordinators, and collection of case studies of client/support worker behavior change interactions. Client, support worker, and coordinator responses were highly positive, reporting improvement in the quality of interactions with clients, client health outcomes, care coordination, communication, and teamwork. Mental health literacy remained the biggest knowledge gap. This research showed that support workers are ideally placed to be more actively involved in motivating clients to achieve behavior change goals.