Working in aged care can provide you a special sense of fulfillment that you can’t get with most other occupations. However, it can also be physically and emotionally challenging work, so it’s important to understand what the job entails before committing a career in aged care.
To help you out, we have listed some of the most important things to consider when thinking about working in aged care.
Keep in mind that is just a general guide to help you get started. If you have further questions about qualifications and study options, be sure to contact your a reputable aged care course provider.
Even before the pandemic, the aged care industry was already going through significant expansions. Job opportunities within the industry were already forecast to double by 2050, with 179,000 job openings (a 25% increase) over a five-year period.
After Australia went through a tough 2020, a few shortcomings in the aged care industry were highlighted. It became apparent that the sector is in need of many more skilled and passionate workers who can provide high-quality care for Australian senior citizens. Regardless of which state you’re in, there will be plenty of job opportunities in the aged care industry if you’re a qualified worker.
Additionally, due to the aging population and increasing life expectancy in Australia, the aged care industry has become future-proof. Thus, those who enter the sector will likely enjoy a stable and long-lasting career.
What the work consists of
You might already be aware of some of the responsibilities involved in working in aged care. However, it doesn’t hurt to look at the whole picture.
Working in aged care includes a diverse range of tasks. One aspect of the work will be supporting residents with their day-to-day activities. This can include preparing food, housekeeping, shopping for groceries and maintaining the residents’ personal hygiene. Depending on their health status, some residents might require more assistance than others. In some cases, you will also be engaging with the residents’ families to share your observations about their health and overall well-being.
Additionally, you will be helping health professionals in executing treatment plans. Depending on your qualifications, you might have to assist in administering medicine. Organising health appointments and transporting the residents to nearby medical facilities can also be part of your job as an aged care worker.
In addition, you will also have the ‘duty of care’. The duty of care refers to your responsibility to not cause harm to another person. This applies not only to the aged care sector but also childcare and disability services.
Also, it is important that you go beyond the necessities and meet the standard of care. At times, it’s not enough to just provide what the residents need. A huge part of caring for our elderly is making sure that they are comfortable in the aged care homes. As an aged care worker, you will also be expected to provide emotional and cultural support when necessary.
Types of jobs/roles in aged care
There are multiple job types in the aged care industry. Each one entails slightly different responsibilities and requires different skills and qualifications.
A residential support worker assists in everyday necessities like cooking, cleaning and other personal needs. They can assist in aged care homes or in disability services.
Community support workers assist the elderly (as well as those with disabilities) in participating in community activities. Community support workers plan the residents’ calendars with fun activities like bingo, social club meetings and even dancing. Sometimes, this is done for rehabilitation or development purposes. As a result, it is also the community support workers’ responsibility to monitor how the residents are doing emotionally and physically. In some cases, the workers might have to modify the activities that they host depending on the residents’ well-being and status.
Assistants in nursing (or enrolled nurses) will provide aid to medical workers in hospitals and other facilities. Their main job is to support registered nurses and assist with housekeeping tasks and administering medicine to the residents.
Lastly, there are registered nurses. Although they mostly work in medical facilities, they can also provide assistance in aged care homes. To be a registered nurse you will need to have an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Nursing in addition to a state nursing licence.
What qualifications and skills do you need?
Before choosing a path, it is important to make sure that your chosen course is administered by a nationally recognised provider.
TAFE courses can often be taken part-time or full-time. Certificate courses will give you a general understanding of the aged care sector. You will gain knowledge regarding safety, legality and ethics in the context of the aged care industry. Usually, certifications will provide work placements. To make sure you get the certification and practical experience, be sure to contact your TAFE/course provider.
Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community) will help you gain the skills that you need to work in aged care homes. Additionally, through placements, it will give you practical experience before you start working full-time.
It’s worth noting that this branch of health care focuses mainly on caring for the elderly. There are other courses that focus on disability services and childcare.
Good interpersonal skills are incredibly important to be able to effectively work in aged care. Your communication skills will need to be at a high level. You will need the ability to speak clearly and effectively listen to your clients’ needs. Being socially perceptive and empathetic are also great attributes to have.
Additionally, administration and management skills will be extremely helpful when organising events and social activities.
Being an aged care worker will be physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. However, it can be an extremely fulfilling experience. You are working to provide high quality service to ensure that the country’s elderly are cared for. That’s a cause worth sweating for.
Aged care jobs allow you to contribute to your community and connect with the people within it. Providing such high-quality care can bring a lot of joy into a elderly resident’s life. For some, that alone makes the challenges of working in aged care worth facing.