The demand for aged care workers is on the rise – according to the ABS, the number of Australian people aged 85 and over is expected to double by the year of 2042.
Here is everything you need to know about working as an aged carer.
What is an Aged Care Worker?
Australia’s ageing population has resulted in the increasing demand for Aged Care Workers and related services. The Australian Government has reported that over 1.2 million people received aged care services and ageing support in their home or community during 2017-2018, with:
- 7% accessing residential aged care
- 22% accessing some form of support or care at home
- 71% living at home without accessing government-subsidised aged care services.
The aim of Australia’s aged care industry is to provide general assistance, emotional support, ageing support and personal care for elderly people. An Aged Care Worker’s role is to specifically aid elderly people who require assistance, with their domestic duties or illnesses, either in their own home or in residential care.
The main goal here is to enhance this persons quality of life through encouraging independence, community participation and companionship.
Aged Care Facility Types:
The aged care industry has two different types of facilities that are available to ensure that elderly individuals are taken care of effectively.
Residential Aged Care:
Residential Aged Care is provided for senior Australians that do not have the ability to live in their own home, providing accommodation and personal care. This type of support usually offers a 24 hour care, suited to individuals in need constant care and management with the opportunity for community participation and socialising.
In-Home Aged Care is provided to senior Australians who wish to remain independent for as long as possible within their own home. This type of support offers a personalised style of care, suited to individuals who are able to live with little assistance.
For those aged 65 or older, 52% would prefer to be cared for in their own home, while 48% noted they would prefer a residential aged care home. In-Home care can also help in the short term to improve an individuals wellbeing and independence after a hospital stay.
What’s it Like Working in Aged Care
The primary task of an aged care worker is to organise activities to boost the positive wellbeing of elderly people. Working in aged care requires a strong sense of compassion and personal empathy combined with interpersonal communication skills. Working in Residential and In-Home Care is slightly different.
Working in a Residential Aged Care Facility
Residential Aged Care facilities include 24/7 personal care and accommodation for residents along with access to health care services, nursing, community building and event participation.
Working as an In-Home Carer
In-Home carer’s usually work on a one-to-one basis with the role involving involving cooking, shopping, housework, exercise and making modifications to the client’s home.
Aged Care Worker Duties and Responsibilities
The aged care sector requires you to have a variety of duties and responsibilities while caring for the country’s older generation. While the amount of care a specific individual needs is on a situational case to case basis, here are the most common tasks and responsibilities:
- Domestic duties such as laundry, cleaning and washing.
- Providing basic personal care; showering, assistance using the bathroom and dressing.
- Ensuring that all meals are cooked and prepared to a resident’s dietary requirements.
- Monitoring medication and health conditions of client regularly.
- Clear and transparent communication with other staff members.
- Transporting those in your care to appointments, grocery shopping or for walking.
- Supporting residents mentally through compassion, kindness and patience.
- Adhering to relevant aged care regulations/legislation (both state and federal).
- Attending professional development seminars and training to keep up to date with changes in the aged care industry.
How to Become an Aged Care Worker
There are many pathways in training to become an aged care worker as there is a variety of different jobs within the aged care sector, each requires their training or qualifications. This can range from an online course, VET qualification or a TAFE course to a three-year bachelor degree with the option to upskill and seek out constant professional development.
What Qualifications Do I Need to Work in Aged Care?
To become an aged care worker it is most beneficial to gain qualifications and on the ground experience. This can be achieved through Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, short courses or traineeships which available in-person or online and are supplied by by registered training organisations.
These education and practical pathways will assist you in gaining the qualifications, skills and training to prepare you for aged care work.
Aged Care Education and Qualification
Courses which would assist in getting hired as an aged care worker include:
- Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community); this certificate or similar would provide you with ground level knowledge with a disability focus. Most importantly, this course provides practical experience.
- Certificate IV in Aged Care; this qualification provides training in management, supporting other staff and trains you to work in an aged care environment.
- Certificate IV in Disability; this qualification assists in understanding how different elderly people and those with disabilities need assistance within an aged care environment.
- Certificate III Health Services Assistance; specifically specialises those who want to pursue nursing in aged care.
- Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing)
- Certificate IV in Preparation for Health and Nursing Studies.
Another way of getting much needed practical experience is a traineeship or volunteer work. Getting first hand experience and training while studying would allow you to complete a Certificate III in Individual Support.
Short courses are also available and provide valuable entry-level knowledge for an aspiring aged care worker, including:
- Statement of Attainment in Aged Care
- Statement of Attainment in Introduction to Aged Care
- Statement of Attainment in Introduction to Home and Community Care
- TAFE Statement in Mental health awareness for workers in residential aged care.
Other education or qualifications that are beneficial for an aged care worker include:
- Bachelor of Nursing, Bachelor of Science (majoring in Nursing) or a Bachelor of Nursing (Advanced Studies).
- Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)
- Bachelor of Rural Health Practice
- Bachelor of Clinical Practice (Paramedic)
- Bachelor of Public Health.
Personal Requirements of Aged Care Workers
An aged care worker must have a strong desire to help those who cannot help themselves. This requires an aged care worker to be compassionate, kind and patient at the bare minimum. Other personal requirements include:
- Strong sense of community.
- Willingness to take care of others.
- Great teamwork.
- Empathy and listening skills.
Aged Care Skills List
Generally required skills and tasks of aged care support workers include:
- Organising social activities.
- Managing time, people and places.
- Maintaining and constantly updating records and paperwork.
- A love for tidying, cleaning and sanitising.
- Engaging with a resident or client’s family members.
Understanding the Industry: Aged Care Salaries in Australia
The aged care industry is filled with individuals interested in caring for others and that’s a great start. However, a rewarding salary is just as important for a successful career. Now the question is, how much do aged care workers earn?
The salary of an aged care worker will vary across Australia. With this being said, the latest Fair Work Ombudsman pay guide has noted that a full-time aged care worker can expect to earn between $801.40 and $973.40 weekly depending on their employee level.
- Aged care employee level 1 – $801.40
- Aged care employee level 2 – $834.60
- Aged care employee level 3 – $867.30
- Aged care employee level 4 – $877.60
- Aged care employee level 5 – $907.30
- Aged care employee level 6 – $956.20
- Aged care employee level 7 – $973.40
Of course, this increases with public holiday and weekend pay rises.
The Future of Aged Care in Australia: The Aged Care Workforce Strategy
Currently, the Australian Government’s department of health is investing in the future of elderly Australians by implementing the Aged Care Workforce Strategy to improve the quality of the aged care industry. The initiative includes 14 actions that will attempt to shift attitudes to caring, attract and retain skilled aged care workers, and ensure that the aged care industry can meet and transcend the needs of elderly Australians now and into the future. The strategic actions are:
- Creation of a social change campaign to reframe caring and promote the aged care workforce.
- Voluntary industry code of practice.
- Reframing the qualification and skills framework—addressing current and future competencies.
- Defining new career pathways, including how the workforce is accredited.
- Developing cultures of feedback and continuous improvement.
- Establishing a new industry approach to workforce planning including skills mix modelling.
- Implementing new attraction and retention strategies for the workforce.
- Developing a revised workforce relations framework to better reflect the changing nature of work.
- Strengthening the interface between aged care and primary/acute care.
- Improved training and recruitment practices for the Australian Government aged care industry.
- Establishing a remote accord.
- Establishing an Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research.
- Current and future funding, including staff remuneration.
- Transitioning the industry and workforce to new standards.
With these 14 strategic actions, the government hopes to reinvigorate the aged care system and ensure the needs of senior Australians are met.
Why Do You Want to Work in Aged Care Services?
So, why do you wanted to work in aged care services?
Aged care makes a genuine difference to people’s lives and becomes an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career as you bring smiles to those around you. You have the ability to get involved in activities, events, parties and more as you become apart of more and more people’s lives.
Although it may be challenging at some points, the rewards outweigh them completely. The ability to connect and interact with a variety of different people, listen in on stories of romance or war, or even seeing a resident break through their illness is just a heart warming experience.
Having qualifications and experience in aged care also enables you to work anywhere in Australia with job stability. People will always need support as they grow old and you might have just the right attitude, presence and smile to change not only an elderly persons day, but their life as well.
References and Further Reading