For those of us not working on the front line in aged care, it can be hard to imagine what a care worker does on a day-to-day basis. Taking care of people is something that takes a lot of different strengths and when it comes to taking care of the elderly, the job has a number of challenges that can only be met by a certain type of person. However, it can be an incredibly rewarding career, giving your time to take care of those who cannot care for themselves. The aim of the aged care system, as described by the Productivity Commission (2018), is to promote the well being and independence of older people (and their carers), by enabling them to stay in their own homes or by supporting their care needs in residential care. This overall aim is implicit in the Aged Care Act 1997.
Older Australians can develop issues with doing day to day tasks and require assistance in undertaking these activities. Aged care workers are frontline staff that help older people achieve their goals and make sure they assist in enhancing the quality of life.
WHAT IS AN AGED CARE WORKER?
Aged Care Workers provide care and support to elderly people by assisting with the maintenance of personal care, domestic duties and management of illness. This often includes providing support with eating, showering, dressing, tidying and cleaning. Aged Care Workers can work from their client’s home, residential care facility, hospitals and clinics. They also provide companionship and emotional support, and promote independence and community participation.
Common skills and tasks among aged care workers for the elderly include:
- Advising families on nutrition, habits and bedside care
- Monitoring medication and vital signs with registered nurses and physicians
- Transporting the elderly and disabled
- Helping clients communicate
- Food preparation
- Making sure that clients’ personal hygiene is taken care of
- Organizing social activities
- Maintaining records and paperwork
- Tidying and cleaning, including sanitising activities.
- Engaging with family members to offer observations, instructions and updates.
- Following health and safety guidelines.
One of the primary tasks of an Aged Care Worker is to arrange and facilitate activities designed to enhance the different kinds of well being — emotional, social and physical.
Personal requirements for an Aged Care Worker:
- Friendly and compassionate
- Patient, flexible and understanding
- Supportive and caring nature
- Commitment to the rights of the elderly to live dignified lives
- Able to accept responsibility
- Good communication skills
- Able to work as part of a team
- Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
- Able to perform domestic duties efficiently
Australia has an ageing population, which is increasing demand for Aged Care and related services. Aged Care is one of the fastest growing careers in Australia. More than 1.2 million people received aged care services during 2017–18, with most (77%) receiving support in their home or other community-based settings. Putting this in context, Australians aged 65 and over in 2017–18:
- 7% accessed residential aged care
- 22% accessed some form of support or care at home
- 71% lived at home without accessing government-subsidised aged care services.
Almost 221,200 people began using aged care services in 2018–19. Around 1 in 5 people were admitted to home care in 2018–19 and more than two thirds of admissions into aged care in 2018–19 were to residential care. Employment for Aged and Disabled Carers to 2023 is expected to grow very strongly. Employment in this very large occupation, rose very strongly in the past five years and in the long-term (ten years). There are government studies that reveal that there could be a vast shortage of aged care workers by the end of this decade, (Aged Care Union, United Voice, Federal Government). This means that the job prospect outlooks for this industry are high.
WHAT AGED CARE QUALIFICATION DO YOU NEED TO BECOME AN AGED CARE WORKER?
To become an Aged Care Worker, you are generally required to complete a qualification in Ageing Support or Individual Support. By undertaking courses in aged care, you will meet minimum education requirements, gain the knowledge and practical experience required to help you to secure a job.
Complete a Certificate IV in Ageing Support (CHC3015) or Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) (CHC33015) at a TAFE or Registered Training Organisation. Either of these certificate consists of both academic training and practical on-the-job experience. It will also give you the skills to provide person-centred support to people who require assistance due to ageing or disability. It will give you a good overview of aged care, along with the safety, legal and ethical protocols you need to know when working with the elderly. Some additional information – to work as an aged care worker, you must obtain a National Police Certificate and a provide First Aid/CPR Certificate, Working with Children Check and COVID-19 training.
Do you have an upcoming job interview for an aged care position? Make sure you come prepared by knowing what questions to expect. Read ”Applying for a job? Here’s how to nail the nursing interview!” to learn how you can impress your interviewer. Are you looking for your first work experience as an Aged Care Worker? Check our guide on “Interview Tips with a Recruitment Agency” on how to ace the job interview and making a good impression with the recruitment consultant, including what to expect from an interview, how to prepare for it and how to make the most of the relationship to secure a nursing position.
Aged care workers have one of the fastest growing and most rewarding careers in the country. Through their daily responsibilities, they are able to help some of the most vulnerable people in Australia and have the opportunity to form rewarding personal relationships which can be hard to do in other jobs. Aged Care Workers are often extremely dedicated to those they care for, people who can be socially isolated so that it is the aged care worker who provides much needed company and emotional support. Some of our BPNA Aged Care Workers shared their thoughts:
“Aged care has its good and bad days, but I keep going back for the clients. I like having the continued conversations with them and listening to their stories. Although it is hard watching a client’s mental and physical health decline, I feel privileged to be enhancing their lives with my continued care and support”
As more and more people in today’s society are reliant on support for their aged loved ones because of their hectic schedules, the need for aged care workers is steadily on the rise. Even throughout the pandemic, you can enrol in a course and become fully qualified within 6 months. The Australian Government predicts “very strong” future job growth for Aged Carers over the next 5 years, which means your chances at finding a job as an Aged Care worker are high. Working to improve the lives of others and to make a positive difference on a daily basis is a meaningful career that’s rewarding on many levels. If you have a caring attitude, a positive outlook, great communication skills and can imagine yourself doing the tasks required, then aged or disabled care could be the career for you.