Aged care jobs are in demand. If finding a meaningful and fulfilling career with genuine job prospects is important to you, it might be time for you to explore the aged care sector.
Aged care is one of the largest sectors in Australia, with recent data from the National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey finding there were approximately 366,000 paid workers in aged care in 2016.
According to figures from Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services, more than 15 per cent of the state’s population is made up of older people. What’s more, the number of Victorians aged 65 and over is on track to triple by 2058. The provision of high-quality aged care is vital, and the sector is in need of skilled aged care workers now and into the future to ensure that older Australians receive the care they require.
Aged care job growth: workers are in demand
The demographic of Australians is changing and we are living longer than ever before. The Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report summary includes projections that the number of Australians aged 85 years and over will increase from 515,700 in 2018–19 to more than 1.5 million by 2058!
With older age comes increased frailty and additional health conditions, making aged care an essential focus for Australia. Needless to say, these factors are influencing the demand for aged care services and in turn aged care workers who are qualified and capable.
For those seeking a new career, aged care provides an opportunity to make a genuine difference in the lives of others while entering a sector with excellent job prospects. Job uncertainty is a major concern for many, making aged care an appealing sector offering a sense of fulfilment alongside job security and ongoing growth.
A renewed focus on highly skilled workers
The aged care sector isn’t just growing — it’s being overhauled. The sector is set to be enhanced across every facet in line with findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report was handed down recently and outlines 148 recommendations, each of which is considered to be vital to shaping an aged care sector that is capable and committed to providing compassionate care for recipients of aged care.
In order to improve the standard of care and moral from aged care workers, the Royal Commission recommends ensuring:
- Good working conditions
- Supportive and visionary management
- Empowering work culture
- Collaborative teams
- Relevant education and training, structured career progression
- Job satisfaction among care workers
The Australian Government has responded to this by committing $92 million to create over 18,000 places for workers between now and 2023, reinforcing that a highly skilled, well rewarded and valued aged care workforce is vital to providing high quality, person-centred aged care.
In addition to increasing funding for the sector and raising the standard of acceptable care, the recommendations are set to ensure that aged care workers can access regular training opportunities. Enabling aged care professionals to maintain and update their knowledge and practical skills lays the foundation for the highest quality delivery of aged care and the creation of a highly skilled workforce.
To inform this, the Royal Commission is advocating for a Certificate III aged care qualification as the mandatory minimum to ensure care workers have a broad range of knowledge and skills. There should also be transitional arrangements for existing workers who do not meet these requirements, allowing them to register based of their previous experience and further their current skills.
A cultural shift is needed from the Australian Government, the aged care sector and unions to assist in professionalising the personal care workforce. These bodies must consider how jobs should be valued and redesigned to attract workers to the sector, as the need for these skilled workers increases with the growing number of aging Australians.
The Royal Commission is recommending that existing job classifications should be reviewed and new career pathways mapped to facilitate opportunities for nurses, personal care workers and other aged care workers.
Diversity in care approaches and career opportunities
Australia’s aging population is growing and so too is the need for different types of aged care.
Aged care and its workforce are not limited to traditional aged care facilities or nursing homes. In fact, while most of the aged care budget is currently spent on residential aged care, over two thirds of those accessing aged care services do so from home. This funding distribution is expected to shift as we support more people to stay living independently for longer.
The central care types in aged care include home care, aged care facilities and short-term aged care. With this in mind, there is a variety of aged care career directions to follow when you pursue this sector. A couple of examples of where an aged care career might begin are:
Home care assistant: A role that involves supporting ageing Australians with day-to-day tasks while they continue to live in their own homes.
Residential care worker: As a residential care worker you will work in aged care facilities assisting the elderly residents with their day-to-day needs.
There are also opportunities for learning and career progression within specific areas like dementia and palliative care. The Royal Commission found that as many as 70% of people in residential aged care could be living with dementia and many nurses and general practitioners do not have a full understanding of the symptoms and needs of people living with dementia.
The Commission also heard that residential aged care staff tend to be under-skilled and under-educated in palliative care, and that there is a lack of suitably qualified staff to manage palliative care adequately.
High quality dementia and palliative care should be considered core business for aged care providers and an option for carers to specialise in areas of need and interest. The Australian Government should implement as a condition of approval of aged care providers that all workers who are involved in direct contact with people seeking or receiving services in the aged care system undertake regular training about dementia care and palliative care.
There is plenty of room to grow and become specialised in aged care jobs, with further training leading to leadership and coordinator positions. You can create an aged care pathway to develop your aged care career in the direction where your passion lies.
Getting qualified for aged care jobs
When you’re ready to start exploring aged care jobs and get involved in the aged care job boom, you will need to get the right qualifications.
The Royal Commission is keen to ensure that all care workers are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed for current and future aged care needs. A Certificate III in Individual Support (CHC33015) is the best place to start. This will equip you with comprehensive, practical and relevant training so that you are confident to provide care beyond compliance in the aged care workplace.
Benefit from the practical placement component of your course and gain invaluable hands-on experience while you’re studying. In fact, if you opt for workplace training as a delivery mode option you can earn while you learn.
Further opportunities for training may be focusing on leadership in care settings, assisting clients with medications and coordinating services to maximise outcomes for the elderly via the Certificate IV in Ageing Support (CHC43015) or learning to develop and implement effective leisure and health programs, including to support those with complex needs through the Certificate IV in Leisure and Health (CHC43415).
Discover a fulfilling aged care job
Aged care has plenty to offer its workforce, from job prospects through to the rewarding nature of work in the sector. As an aged care worker, you can improve the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, enhancing their health and wellbeing every day.
Whether you’re considering aged care because you are interested in caring for others or you are seeking job security, a rewarding salary is still important. The aged care sector has the potential to offer you just that, particularly in light of the Royal Commission recommendations to increase the award wages and remuneration across aged care worker jobs.
If you’re ready to start training for meaningful and rewarding aged care jobs, our trainers are committed, compassionate and have plenty of sector experience to help you reach your career goals.
Get prepared for your career in aged care — contact Selmar to take the first step.