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How to Thrive in the Aged Care Industry - Your Step by Step Guide

By Vanessa Ciabatti

Australia’s aged care sector has played a crucial role in supporting and empowering the needs of the elderly. From personal carers giving daily assistance to registered nurses providing medical care, this industry offers plenty of fulfilling opportunities for those with the right skills and passion.

Below, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to building a successful career in this industry: including training opportunities, navigating common challenges, and ways to constantly stand out in the job market.

Step 1: Why pursue the aged care industry?

The Australian aged care sector shows compelling promise over the next few years – with Labour Market Insights projecting a growth rate of 28% to 2026. Employers are also on the hunt for at least 110,000 aged care workers in the coming decade, meaning abundant job openings for aspiring professionals. Formal degrees are additionally not essential to enter the field, making it accessible to a wider talent pool. 

On top of this, current aged care professionals enjoy a generous average salary of over $87,000 AUD per year (or approximately $44 AUD per hour). The highest earners can earn up to $130,000 AUD with enough experience.

What skills do employers look for?

Employers in this sector prioritize skillsets and personality traits that contribute to the well-being of their elderly residents. Labour Market Insights shows that 54% of employers value candidates with a strong aptitude for serving others, often showing high levels of empathy, compassion, and a genuine commitment to the welfare of their patients. This is followed by social perceptiveness (or the ability to understand and respond effectively to one’s emotions), and monitoring (the ability to track, assess, and improve care plans). Critical thinking and being able to actively listen to residents’ concerns are also highly sought-after skills.  

Step 2: Gain relevant experience

So, think you’re a suited fit for the aged care field? To get your foot in the door, you’ll firstly need to build the right skills and qualifications. While the latter isn’t always needed, they’re a valuable asset to stand out in the job market.

Online courses can offer a flexible and accessible pathway to the acquiring the knowledge and experience necessary for aged care. Our CHC33021 - Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability), for example, can help you learn the basics of providing individualised support, communicating in a healthcare environment, and empowering those in need. With most of its content delivered online, you have the advantage of flexibly studying around your current schedule and personal commitments.

Skills on paper, however, are only part of the equation. Equally crucial is the cultivation of empathy and compassion – often considered the bedrock of quality aged care provision. Be sure to nurture your ability to connect with others, providing emotional support, and understanding the unique needs of the elderly.

Step 3: Dealing with challenges and burnout

Working in the Australian aged care sector can be incredibly rewarding, though it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Aged care workers will often face emotional burnout due to the nature of their work, which involve forming deep connections with residents and witnessing the challenges of aging. The physical demands of caregiving can be taxing as well, requiring strength and endurance. Coping with end-of-life care and the loss of patients adds another layer of emotional strain.

Spotting burnout is therefore crucial. Common symptoms can include constant fatigue, overreaction to small issues, difficulty concentrating, and sleeping problems. Irritability, anxiety, and depression are also typical signs. To manage burnout as an employee, it’s essential to prioritize self-care, seek support from colleagues and supervisors, and consider professional help if needed.

Aged care managers can also play a critical role in preventing burnout among their staff. This includes assessing and reducing work-related stress, providing necessary mental health resources, offering flexible schedules, ensuring adequate time for quality care, and fostering a strong sense of teamwork through staff engagement opportunities. Addressing these challenges and proactively managing burnout is vital for retaining employees and the quality of care they provide in the sector.

Step 4: Resources and further reading

Finally, keeping your skills and knowledge sharp ensure you provide the best care possible and allows you to stay competitive on the job market. By staying informed on the latest industry trends, practices, and demands, you can adapt as necessary to improve the quality of care you offer.

There are valuable online resources available to help expand your knowledge. The My Aged Care government resource hub is an excellent starting point, offering a wealth of information on aged care services, policies, and eligibility criteria. Another valuable resource is the Aged Care Research & Industry Innovation (ARIIA) website, which offers insights into industry research and the latest developments.

We also offer our own information hub on the Australian aged care industry[AA1] , providing aspiring professionals with the latest employment statistics, sector trends, and a list of the various skill qualifications available.

Success stories from the aged care industry

The stories below are snapshots from the Humans of Aged Care website, showcasing the personal and inspirational journeys of individuals from the aged care industry. Their experiences highlight the profound impact that a career in aged care can have on both caregivers and residents alike.

Danica Langford-Lenane: At just age 22, Danica serves as a personal carer at Sunset Lodge, a small and tightly-knit aged care facility. Reflecting on her role, she states, "I'm not just a glorified bum wiper. I'm a shoulder to cry on when you can't remember, or when you forget how to speak. I'm the one who will listen to your stories and jokes - even if you've already told me the same one five times today. I'll still laugh!" Danica underscores that her job extends far beyond caregiving; it's about offering emotional support, sharing laughter, and upholding the dignity of residents.

Khoryom "Tut" Nuyon: Originally hailing from South Sudan, Tut arrived in Australia in 2003 and discovered his calling in the aged care sector. Tut highlights the deep connections he forges with residents, likening them to family: “We work hard for them as if we would work for our parents. Because we work every day with them they become like our family.” Tut firmly believes in the importance of listening to residents' needs, recognizing that they seek help and deserve compassion and support.

Peni Tiatia: Peni possesses a deep passion for caring for residents and treasures the personal connections he establishes. He derives immense fulfillment from providing care to those who may not have family nearby, firmly believing that a career in aged care is not only rewarding and enriching for residents, for the workers as well. Peni states, “Working in aged care has taught me a lot about life and people, mainly to really appreciate the life I have and my family.”

For more inspiring stories on the world of aged care, visit the Humans of Aged Care website.

Make your mark in the aged care sector today!

If you’ve got the skills, the drive, and most of all – the compassion for a fulfilling career in aged care, there’s no better time to start then now.

As mentioned, Upskilled offers a nationally-recognised CHC33021 - Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability), arming you with the tools to support the well-being, independence, and physical health of Australia’s aging population. Best of all, the course is delivered online – helping you study at a time, place, and pace that suits you best.

Dive into the growing and ever-crucial sector of aged care, and enquire with us on a course today.

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