Abstract

Background & aim
Heat-related weather events can significantly affect aged care service delivery due to the vulnerability of the community aged care workforce to heat as they are required to be outdoors and to do labour-intensive work in hot environments. Recent modelling shows that inland NSW will experience the fastest increases in summer-time temperatures in Australia. Therefore, it is important that organisations in this region understand and mitigate the effect of extreme heat (e.g., heat waves) on the rural community aged care workforce to avoid burnout, to ensure ongoing access to services and so that those ageing in place are supported during these extreme weather events. The aim of this co-designed research is to investigate the impacts of extreme heat on the community aged-care workforce. The research is a collaboration between a regional university and a rural aged care provider. Together we have embarked on this exploratory investigation into the impact of extreme heat on labour productivity in rural aged care.

Methods
This research uses a mixed-method approach, including a quantitative phase to compare existing absentee data with temperatures and a qualitative phase to conduct interviews with aged care staff to understand the experiences of delivering home care services during heat events.

Results
The anticipated outcomes of this research are to understand the impact of heat stress on the delivery of community aged care services and to develop methods of preparing for and responding to extreme heat (e.g., through the use of mitigation strategies) that can be disseminated to and implemented by similar organisations.

Challenges
Although this research is in very early stages and data collection has just commenced, the researchers have noted the challenge of investigating responses to extreme heat during winter months.

Implications
The effects of climate change are already impacting a stretched workforce. The population of older people in regional and rural NSW is increasing and the workforce shortages have implications for service delivery. As we rapidly move into El Nino we need to understand and work with affected staff to manage our new normal, provide optimal and safe working conditions for staff and enhance service delivery to older people living in our rural communities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2023
Event10th Western NSW Health Research Network WHRN2023 Research Symposium - Dubbo Regional Theatre and Conventions Centre, Darling Street., Dubbo, Australia
Duration: 11 Sept 202312 Sept 2023
https://whrnnetwork.wordpress.com/
https://whrnnetwork.wordpress.com/whrn2023-research-symposium-programme/ (Program)

Conference

Conference10th Western NSW Health Research Network WHRN2023 Research Symposium
Abbreviated titleAdvancing the quality of rural health research through networking: reflecting on our past, empowering our future
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityDubbo
Period11/09/2312/09/23
Internet address

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