Australia has an ageing population: the number of people 65 years and over is increasing while the number of young people have shrunk. It is estimated that in 2016, over 1 in 7 people were aged 65 and over, translating to 3.7 million Australians or 15% of the population, with that number expected to grow.
While this has presented a challenge to the government in terms of the economy and social services, it is also a goldmine of opportunities for those wanting a career in aged care. The demand for workers caring and supporting older adults and people with a disability are expected to grow strongly in the next 5 years leading to 2022, with 184,000 expected job openings during the period.
Aside from the immediate benefit of being employed in a caring sector, there is a certain charm to working with older people as they reach their so-called twilight years, wherein you provide provide care and support for them to live fulfilling lives. Older people require assistance to meet their individualised needs. They may no longer have the strength to complete activities of daily living (ADL’s) and/or require assistance due to cognitive changes.
Geraldine T., an individual support trainer from Inspire Education, has many years of disability support and nursing experience in aged, acute and home and community care. She has shared her experiences while working in the industry and with the people in it.
Aged care can be rewarding, and here are her 9 best reasons to work in aged care:
• Spending time with each individual and being inspired with hearing their life stories
Remember that the folks you see in an aged care facility or in your community were young once and were at their prime. Having lived to their age means they’ve been through a lot, and know a good story or two to tell over tea or snacks.
• Learning and seeing things from a different perspective from our elderly people who had years of experience and the time to gain wisdom
Aside from having gone through many years of experiences in life, they are no stranger to successes and mistakes. They are also former professionals in their field as well as being parents, spouses, friends or just about any relationship you might be in right now.
• Celebrating achievements with an elderly person when they achieve their goals, no matter how big or small
In a many ways, as a person ages they may require support to meet their individualised needs, as well as in achieving their goals and aspirations. It is rewarding to support older people to do what they have been doing or learn something new.
• Spending time with the elderly helps you develop a new appreciation of life and family
The elderly are a reminder that we too one day will grow old and may need assistance. They’ve worked most of their lives, raised children into adults and have probably been alive in the time mentioned in books and internet archives.
• Shared feeling of achievement when supporting an elderly person and they develop new skills such as painting
There is a saying that learning doesn’t stop at the classroom, and people definitely continue learning into old age as long as they’re given support and resources to do so. Perhaps they did not have the time to pursue their hobby since they were raising a family, or were often busy with work and only found the opportunity recently.
• Working hours are flexible and this can help you meet your personal responsibilities
Given that you don’t have to be tied to a strict schedule for work, you can better attend to family and other personal commitments that require your attention. There is much more leeway in planning a workweek when you can vary the time you need to be at work.
• Working in different areas such as palliative, dementia, social support and respite care
As we age, we develop changing individualised needs. In aged care, you will be exposed to different areas of care and the means of responding to those care needs. In the process, you will gain experience supporting people with life-limiting illnesses, chronic health conditions and dementia.
• Being trained in different skill sets to further your career
You get to develop not one particular skill but a whole lot of them as you learn how to prepare food, assist people with their medication, monitor, record and report changes in health conditions, provide individualised care and promote independence, and assist with ADL’s and support with community access.
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