So you want to work in aged care?
Aged care is one of the fastest growing job sectors in Australia. Due to our ageing population, the number of jobs in the sector has more than doubled year on year and there are four times the number of jobs than job seekers.
Many people get into the sector as they enjoy spending time with their elders. Others have had personal experience with aged care, for example looking after their grandparents, and they want to give back. Or some people value the opportunity to progress and variety of work on offer.
Whatever the reason, a job in aged care is never boring and can provide some of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of your life.
So what do you need to know about a job in aged care? In this article we’ll take you through the key roles available, how you get into the sector, what it takes to work in aged care, and career pathways. We’ve also included some advice from Amana Living staff to people considering a job in aged care.
What are the roles?
There is a huge variety of roles available within aged care and the location you work in can vary, depending on whether you’re in a residential care centre or providing support in a person’s home or helping them in the community.
If you want to provide direct care, then the roles to consider are carers, community support workers, nurses, and allied health professionals. Allied health includes jobs like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and even dentists.
Alternatively, if you’re more interested in the roles that keep the cogs turning in residential care centres then you can look at hospitality services. These roles include cooking, laundry, and cleaning. Plus, a lot of residential care centres employ maintenance people and gardeners.
Lastly, there are also corporate roles available within aged care and there is high demand for people with skills and experience in marketing, IT, finance and HR and administration.
Pay and conditions vary depending on the role and employer.
Where do you start?
How you get into aged care really depends on your background and experience, and ultimately what you would like to do! We’ve picked out some of the most popular roles in aged care and will explain what the role entails and how you get started.
A carer is one of the most widely advertised roles in aged care. It involves providing personal, physical and emotional support to an older person in a residential care centre. This can include helping with everyday tasks such as showering, dressing and eating, plus outings and social activities.
If you’re interested in becoming a carer, you can study a Certificate III in Aged Care as its usually one of the minimum requirements for a carer’s position. It’s a vocational course and will provide you with the training needed to carry out direct care.
Community Support Worker
A Community Support Worker (CSW) provides support to clients in their homes and tasks can include personal care, cleaning, shopping, help with meals and providing transport.
You don’t need a Certificate III qualification for this role but typically employers require you to have a Police Clearance certificate, valid driver’s licence and comprehensive insurance.
Another common role in aged care is Occupational Therapist. The role of the Occupational Therapist is to assess therapy needs of the residents and to develop plans in order to improve their physical and cognitive function.
To become an Occupational Therapist, you have to study Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) or equivalent and register to practice in Western Australia.
In aged care, there is also Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) and Physiotherapy Assistant (PTA) roles that support the OTs and Physios in planning and organising therapeutic and pain management activities. OTA’s and PTA’s don’t need a university degree but generally require a Certificate III Allied Health Assistance or IV in Allied Health Assistance (Occupational Therapy).
Physiotherapists (aka Physio) provide rehabilitation and restorative care to older people to improve movement, manage pain, and restore functionality. Their role includes planning and organising therapeutic activities, plus working closely with the Registered Nurse to maximise the health and wellbeing of the people they support.
If you’re interested in becoming a Physio, you’ll need to study Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) Degree and be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia.
People are now entering residential care in the latter stages of their life, which means they are typically frail and have higher care needs than previous generations of residents. As a result, nurses play a vital role in the delivery of clinical care to support the health and wellbeing of people living in aged care centres.
You can become an Enrolled Nurse (EN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). The EN role requires you to study a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing, whereas you need to study a Bachelor of Nursing degree at university to become an RN. In Western Australia, both positions require registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board.
What does it take to work in aged care?
Working in aged care can be physically, emotionally and mentally demanding. If you provide direct care, you will on your feet a lot and will be required to lift people which requires you to be physically fit.
You need to be service orientated, always looking for ways to enable an older person to live a good life. Excellent communication skills are essential and empathy is crucial as you’re often supporting people in intimate and sometimes difficult circumstances.
A sense of humour doesn’t go astray either!
What are the career pathways?
There are a lot of training opportunities within aged care, and the chance to progress if you’re committed to professional development.
The following two diagrams show you the career progression routes at Amana Living for a carer and community support worker.
Advice from people in the sector
We asked members of the Amana Living team to share their advice for people considering a job in aged care. Here’s what they had to say.
Soraya, Residential Care Service Manager:
“If you’re thinking about working in aged care, you must love older people. It takes a lot of patience and commitment, but the end result is so rewarding when you see a smile on somebody’s face from something you’ve done with them.”
Keziah, Registered Nurse:
“Working in aged care is great. There are so many perks and heaps of opportunities for education and climbing the ladder. You get to spend time with amazing people and work with experienced staff.
“You get one-on-one time with the clients and deliver unique care to each person, which is different to a hospital environment where you see different patients every shift. It’s really satisfying as you’re making a difference to someone’s life.
There’s a lot to be gained from working in aged care.”
Kate, Occupational Therapist:
“Give it a go! It’s fun, you get to spend time with people, and make a difference to their lives.
“But you’ve got to have the right attitude and want to be there. I look for people who are positive, enthusiastic and genuinely want to work in aged care.”
If you’re interested in learning more about working in aged care, check out the following links -
You can also learn more about the training opportunities by clicking on the Courses section of our website.