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Do You Want To Become An Aged Care Worker?

Are you interested in working with elderly people?

Do you genuinely enjoy helping people?

A career in aged care might be perfect for you.

As of July 2023, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care began funding the the Fair Work Commission’s decision to award a 15 percent increase to the wages of:


  • Registered Nurses

  • Enrolled Nurses

  • Assistants in Nursing

  • Personal Care and Home Care Workers


The Aged Care Guide released the following summarised information, with additional information from Luxe Care detailing what to expect from working in the aged care industry.


What is an “entry level” worker?

  • Entry-level means you are starting work in the aged care industry for the first time.

  • Anyone over 18 can apply to become an aged care worker.

  • There are currently no minimum standard qualifications for entry-level care staff.

  • Entry level workers do require screening checks to ensure they are trustworthy, safe and responsible with elderly people.

  • Australian citizens and international applicants are welcome.


How to complete a screening check:

  • Obtain an Australian police check. Online providers include CrimCheck, Fit2Work and Australia Post. This costs around $50 and will take several days to return. Notify your employer as soon as your check is returned.

  • Prepare two work referees to answer questions about working with you. The best referee is someone you worked with for more than a month. A boss or supervisor is ideal but a colleague you worked extensively with is acceptable. Ask your referees for a current phone number or email, and inform them they'll be contacted. Do not ask a friend, neighbour or spouse you haven't worked with.

  • Ensure you arrive on time or at least 5 minutes early to job interviews. Write down your interviewer's name and phone number so you can call them if you become stuck in traffic, lost or you can no longer attend. Do not call when the interview is about to begin and do not attend if you are more than five minutes late. Arrange transport and parking the day before your interview.


 

Beginner Aged Care Qualifications

An easy way to obtain aged care qualifications is through a study system called TAFE. TAFE stands for Technical and Further Education and is designed as an alternative to a university degree or for people looking to upskill.

  • Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing): Additional TAFE training must be completed to achieve a certificate. The certificate is obtainable through the fee-free TAFE initiative, where the government provides accessible tuition to eligible people new to the course. More information: https://www.vic.gov.au/free-tafe

  • Your employer may be able to support your placement via paid work. Luxe Care can usually offer shifts that meet placement requirements, if the TAFE course accepts placement in home care. This means you can work paid shifts while completing placement requirements.

Higher Aged Care Qualifications

  • The Roman numeral system indicates level of training and education: a higher numeral, such as a Certificate IV (Four) indicates more specialised knowledge than a Certificate III (Three).

  • A Certificate IV gives you the skills and training to provide specialised support for older people in a range of settings and requires 120 hours of specified work. A Certificate IV will open up management and operations role opportunities.

  • A Bachelor of Nursing could allow you to enter the Aged Care Nursing Clinical Placements Program. A Bachelor of Nursing is required to become a registered nurse, but a Diploma in Nursing, or an Advanced Diploma in Nursing, is needed to become an enrolled nurse.

  • The Home Care Workforce Support Program provides funded training and work placement opportunities for home care workers. More information here: https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/home-care-workforce-support-program


 

Would I make a good aged care worker?

Helping elderly people can be challenging but extremely rewarding. You will be working with vulnerable people who need empathy and professional care. Please consider the following before entering the aged care industry:

  • Do you genuinely want to help elderly people?

  • Would other people describe you as caring, patient and calm?

  • Do you remain calm if someone else becomes distressed or confused?

  • Do you enjoy talking and having long conversations with others?

  • Are you well organised?

  • Are you always early or on time?

  • Do you have a valid driver’s license and a working car?

  • Could you occasionally travel up to an hour from your house if required? (Public transport is generally not an option)

  • Are you willing to work long hours and/or early mornings?

  • Are you comfortable with casual shift work?

  • Are you reasonably fit and have full body movement/ability?

  • Are you comfortable with potentially assisting clients in the bathroom? (This may not always be a requirement, depending on the role you apply for)

  • As per the Aged Care Act of 1997, you are of sound mind, in control of your actions and have not declared bankruptcy.


Important Points To Keep In Mind

  • Always answer calls from your care employer as soon as possible to assist with sudden shift changes or arrangements. This will prevent elderly clients from being left confused or alone.

  • Ensure you can reasonably take on a number of shifts before applying for an aged care role. Do you have enough availability in your weekly schedule? Are you going on vacation soon?

  • Be aware that older age and generational differences can sometimes lead to awkward comments or conversations. Please report anything inappropriate to your care manager as soon as the shift ends (or straight away, if you feel physically uncomfortable).

  • Avoid using modern slang, word abbreviations (such as “arvo” instead of “afternoon”) or talking too fast. If your client does not understand, speak louder and slower. Many elderly people have hearing issues or wear hearing aids.

  • Ensure you are regularly checking and responding to calls, emails, and any other work based communications.


 

Unacceptable Behaviour for Aged Care Work

  • If you are running late or become sick, you must call your care manager and/or rostering team as soon as possible. Leaving an elderly client with no carer and no explanation causes them distress and confusion. Do not call the client, only your care manager or rostering team members. Do not leave texts or voicemails for your care manager to find, you must speak to a care manager or a rostering team member as soon as possible, to allow time to find a replacement.

  • You must not leave a client alone, unless specified by family/primary caregivers/your care manager.

  • Never leave a client’s house at random. Only leave at the end of your shift or after you have spoken to a care manager (if, for example, you become sick or injured during the shift)

  • Do not discuss the company you work for/your co-workers with clients or their families. If you need help or advice, contact your care manager. Most workplaces have a free and anonymous EAP service available for you to call if you need someone to talk to.

  • If a client says or does something inappropriate, call your care manager as soon as possible.

  • You must attempt to reject money or gifts from clients. If they insist, tell them you will check with your care manager first.

  • You must do your best to not become angry or irritated with a client. Do your best to communicate with them and, if the situation is not improving, step away to another room (if safe to do so) and call your care manager for advice. If your care manager is unavailable, you can speak to another one. If you are unsure about anything, always call a care manager first.

  • Do not switch your phone off or to silent/do not disturb mode during the hours you agree to be contactable. Please consider when you are most likely to be able to answer your phone.


 

Conversation Prompts

Ask About Family:

If a client asks about your family and wants to know everything, keeping your side of the conversation at “surface level” is important. Surface level means only sharing the basics (for example, first name only, ages, jobs) and then directing the conversation back toward the client’s life and family. Use the opportunity to learn about them by saying “Tell me more about your family/children” or asking, “What about yours?” when you finish answering their question.

Example:

“I have three teenage children - 2 boys and 1 girl - they are wonderful. A bit of a handful from time to time, as you would expect. Do you have any children, Mrs Blank? What do they do for study/work? Do they visit you often? Do they live close by? Do you have any grandchildren?”

Ask About Hobbies/Interests:

Everyone enjoys talking about themselves, so feel free to ask your clients what they enjoy doing, if they have any talents or interesting skills, what music or movies they enjoy, if there is something they would like to do or try, if they used to have a hobby or interest that they can show you their work from (for example, paintings or drawings). This could even open up discussions with family and care managers for arranging visits to related places like art galleries, plays, shows, films or restaurants.

Example:

Mr Blank is quiet and reserved around new people but enjoys reflecting on his younger years. He was a talented artist who produced many artworks. “Can you show me the artwork or any photos of it?”, “What was your inspiration?”, “How long did this artwork take to complete?”. Other similar questions: “Do you have any other talents or unique skills?” “Do you have other hobbies?” “What do you like to do in your spare time?”

Ask About Life Story

Your client has led a full life, and many elderly people love reflecting and sharing their memories with others. Ask your client about their childhood or adulthood, their career, where they have travelled to, and any other memories. If they decline to answer something, do not keep asking them to tell you.

Example:

“Mrs Blank, what’s your favourite childhood memory?” “Is there something you’re most proud of?” “Have you travelled overseas?” “What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen or done?”

 


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