Qualifications and training are vital to succeed in the aged care sector and to upholding a high standard of care for elderly people. It’s important to also understand the value of human qualities and interpersonal skills in the sector.
The aged care sector has a lot to offer its workforce, and highly skilled aged care workers are in high demand. To optimise your ability to make a valuable contribution to the aged care sector and those you will provide care to, it’s important to learn and develop a range of interpersonal skills.
These qualities can support you in communicating and connecting with elderly people and ultimately delivering the highest standard of care possible.
The recent findings and recommendations established in light of the Royal Commission into Aged Care centre around ensuring ageing members of our communities are given the high-quality care they deserve. As an aged care professional your role will be to advocate for the elderly, promoting their dignity and enhancing their lives.
Interpersonal skills lend themselves to developing your ability to thrive in the sector and to ensure that those in your care thrive too.
Developing essential skills for aged care
There are many interpersonal skills that will benefit those pursuing a fulfilling career in aged care. Having a passion for helping others is a good starting point, but let’s get more specific about some of the qualities that are needed to reach your full potential in aged care.
Many would say that empathy is among the top essential skills to have for an aged care career. Empathy refers to the ability to connect with the feelings and emotions another person may be experiencing — to be able to place yourself in the position of someone else and imagine what it might feel like to go through what they are going through. In aged care, empathy can be a strong foundation to provide care that is compassionate and genuine.
Ageing can bring with it a sense of loss for many individuals, notably the loss of independence. Elderly clients may need your assistance to eat, shower, get dressed, take their medication, use the bathroom or even getting up and down. Remaining respectful and supporting the dignity of those in your care is crucial to provide a high standard of aged care.
Compassion and care should go hand in hand in aged care. Providing quality aged care isn’t just about completing required tasks but looking at your elderly clients as individuals with needs and doing your best to improve their lives. Compassion involves acknowledging the feelings of those you are providing care for, showing genuine interest and concern for their wellbeing and being kind.
There are times things won’t go to plan or you may need to respond to an unexpected situation. Being able to be responsive and adapt within the aged care workplace is a must have skill. Flexibility also extends to being able to respond to a variety of unique wants and needs for a range of different people to provide individualised care.
A friendly smile, making eye contact when speaking with others, using positive and open body language — these are all highly regarded social skills. Not only do these skills lend themselves well to everyday life, but they also help aged care workers to create meaningful relationships with those in their care. This can make your work more enjoyable and contribute greatly to the wellbeing of your elderly clients.
Many elderly individuals are not able to do things with the same speed and efficiency as a younger person. For aged care workers this means patience is a valuable skill to possess. It also helps to be patient with yourself while you are learning new things. Giving yourself time to master something new can mean you will be more efficient in the long run.
When you choose to work in aged care, you are making a commitment to provide the highest possible standard of care for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. At all times, and especially when you are faced with challenges, it can help to remember why you joined the sector — to help people.
Support from trainers who lead by example
While some of these interpersonal skills for aged care may come naturally to you, others may need more work to develop. Our trainers don’t just take you through your coursework but also support you as you reflect on your interpersonal skills during your training journey. At Selmar our aged care trainers have a wealth of sector experience from which you can learn. Your trainer will guide you and encourage you to reflect on your progress, providing you with the tools you need for your interpersonal qualities to flourish.