Aged care is one of those professions with a lot of assumptions attached. People say some pretty unfavourable things – trust us, we’ve heard them all!
While some of these may be grounded in reality, there’s a lot more to aged care than many people realise.
Don’t let it put you off. We’re here to bust 5 unhelpful myths about working in aged care to give you a better idea of what’s involved and how fulfilling it can be to join the vital aged care sector.
1. It’s just washing and feeding the elderly
We’ve all heard someone turn around and say, really? Aged care? Isn’t it all just wiping people’s… ?
Well, we’re here to tell you that’s a load of you know what!
Personal care certainly does involve practical things like assisting elderly people to wash, dress, move around and eat. Elderly people can need a bit more time and assistance to do things they would normally do. A good way to approach it is to see yourself as giving them an extra helping hand.
We need to shift our perspective. Instead of seeing aged care as looking after people, why not see it as helping them to continue caring for themselves? You’ll also be valued for the companionship and kindness you provide.
Most elderly people want to retain their independence, and you’ll find that assisting them to do so can be really rewarding.
2. It’s depressing
Another big myth is that caring for the elderly is depressing. They don’t want to be there, so the myth goes, and neither do you. In actual fact, aged care work is most often described by those who do it as ‘rewarding’ and ‘fulfilling’.
Let’s be real. Of course, there will be times in your aged care journey when you or someone you care for is dealing with emotions like sadness, melancholy, loneliness, confusion, anxiety, despair and fatigue. These words all sound pretty bad, but remember that they are part of the normal spectrum of human emotion. Getting old is part of life, and unfortunately, these emotions sometimes accompany that process. But on the flip side – what a great opportunity to have a positive affect on someone who may need your support.
You have to appreciate the whole picture and take the good with the bad. When you do, you’ll discover that aged care involves a pretty spectacular range of positive emotions too.
3. Elderly people are hard to deal with
You know this one – the grumpy old man, the mean old woman? We’ve been reading about these characters and seeing them in movies since we were kids, but does that mean they’re an accurate reflection of what elderly people are really like?
The answer is, of course not!
This myth paints elderly people as two-dimensional characters when people are a lot more complex. Finding better ways to support your elderly clients means remembering that each person is an individual with a unique set of personality traits, life experiences and needs.
It’s about kindness, respect and understanding. Once you get to know your clients, there’s a good chance you will enjoy each other’s company.
4. The work environment is unpleasant
If your idea of a residential facility involves 80s décor, ugly curtains, dark rooms and inedible food, think again! Once you start working in aged care you’ll find that many residential services offer vibrant, contemporary care.
This not only includes modern facilities but an updated approach to how we care for and relate to the elderly. It’s not all bingo and boredom. People are living longer than ever before, and contemporary care should aim to give elderly clients everything they’d expect from an enjoyable, healthy lifestyle – whether it’s good food, regular outings, leisure activities or advanced medical care.
5. There’s no career progression
Some people worry that working in aged care means getting trapped in a job with no room to move.
This is an unrealistic assumption.
Part of our focus when training people for aged care is setting learners up with the skills and confidence to progress their career as far and wide as they please.
In fact, there are many career paths on offer. You might start out as a personal carer and gradually upskill to a role coordinating lifestyle and leisure activities. Alternatively, a Diploma can open up pathways to becoming the manager of a care facility or working in community sector management.
As you go along you’ll find out what you like, what you’re good at and what you find most rewarding. It’s up to you where you take it.
Why does it matter?
Debunking outdated and unhelpful myths like these enables us to see aged care in a new light. Since the pandemic and the findings of the Royal Commission, the focus has been on improving the quality of care across the board. An important part of this is changing the culture surrounding how we deliver and view aged care.
Aged care is more than just a job, and the more we appreciate it, the better it will be.
Opportunity awaits you
With an unprecedented demand for aged care workers, now is a great time to consider everything aged care has to offer. Enjoy a rewarding job with plenty of career opportunities while making a difference in people’s lives.
If you are interested, patient and observant, you might already have the adaptive skills to become a great carer. Why not check out our aged care course information and start your journey today.