An Old-Age Crisis Looms: The Growing Need for Aged Care Workers

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The Growing Need for Aged Care Workers

The crisis in the aged care sector is escalating at an alarming rate. Back in 2013, Peter Cosgrove, the chairman of LASA (Leading Age Services Australia), estimated that the existing aged care workforce of 350,000 would need to treble by 2050 to satisfy increasing service demands. This is further exasperated by an ageing workforce within the industry itself; at least a third of all aged care workers are nearing retirement.

McCrindle reckons that 50% of aged care workers will reach retirement age by 2030. As a consequence, hiring rates must surely skyrocket, not just to accommodate the exponential number of over 85s in the population, but the startling rate of workers leaving the profession. From 2014-2024, this would amount to hiring about 650 new workers per month, along with replacements for over 660 retired workers each month in order to sustain our current staff to client ratio.

A recent report issued by Adj Prof John G Kelly AM, the CEO of ACSA (Aged & Community Services Australia), digests the latest projections in the National Intergenerational Report, noting that the number of people aged 70+ will reach approximately 7 million by 2055. Forecasts indicate that there would be far less workers available to support the elderly in Australia at that time than there is today, due to a continuing decline in people of working age since 1975.

Growing old is something none of us can escape, but it’s worrying to think, after a lifetime of hard labour largely committed to helping shape society into a better place for the next generation, that care and support services in this country are falling drastically short, or in some cases, neglecting the elderly entirely.

As Peter Cosgrove remarked in May 2013:

”In Australia there is no natural safety net for older Australians. When you need assistance for daily living, if you don’t have able family you’re in quite a vulnerable position. Every 71 minutes, another Australian cannot access services because those services don’t exist. The capacity isn’t there.”

It’s our social and moral responsibility to help do all we can to rectify this situation. If we don’t, who is going to care for us when we are over the hill?

Employment growth is expected to remain very strong in this sector for the foreseeable future, so it’s a very promising industry to consider for anyone pondering their career options in 2015.

What do I need to become an Aged Care Worker?

Personality
You will be doing everything you can to support and maintain the independence of the elderly insomuch as it is possible, by assisting with their daily needs either through community-based care services, residential care or independent living arrangements carried out from the client’s own home. This could involve everything from cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene, to providing emotional support, compassionate care and companionship. One of the most important hiring considerations of an employer in this sector should therefore take into account the personality of a potential employee.

Are you an empathetic, caring person who is sensitive to the needs of the elderly? Do you have a neverending supply of patience and positivity? Are you a domestic diva? Will you be able to strike up a conversation and build a rapport with your clients? If you don’t have the right temperament for the role, particularly if you’re caring for the sick and disabled, or clients with complicated needs, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.

Qualifications
Although you’re not strictly required to have a qualification to work in the industry, most employers would prefer to hire experienced applicants with qualifications, or those who intend to pick one up in the near future. The most commonly sought after entry-level qualifications in the field are a:

  1. Certificate III in Aged Care (suitable for anyone working in a supervisory capacity in residential care)
  2. Certificate III in Home and Community Care (suitable for anyone wanting to work in a home-based environment under supervision, or in other community settings)
  3. Certificate IV in Aged Care (suitable for anyone working in a residential care facility)

You’ll also be required to have an up-to-date Senior First Aid Certificate and a Police Check.

However, if you already have some good experience, but lack one of the above qualifications, you can easily obtain either of them through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). RPL is an Australian government endorsed assessment that converts your skills and experience into a nationally recognised qualification, saving time, money and teaching resources that would otherwise be wasted if you were to needlessly relearn what you already know.

Why not get a free consultation by taking a free skills review online and find out if you’re eligible for a qualification in aged care? Get Qualified Australia, the national, award-winning expert in Recognition of Prior Learning, has partnered up with over 25 reputable registered training providers to offer hundreds of accredited qualifications to Australians from all walks of life. Today could be your lucky day!

Experience
As with most professions, experience is highly valuable. In a recent survey, nearly half of aged care service providers in South Australia reported that less than 50% of employees who held a Certificate III in Aged Care had the right skills for the job at hand, which put certain training organisations around the country under renewed scrutiny. However, poor English, inadequate work experience and the wrong temperament were also cited as the top reasons why graduates were deemed unsuitable for employment.

Practical, hands-on experience will be of most benefit to employers. The more you have the better your prospects will be. By studying for a certificate, you should have direct access to an aged care facility, so take advantage of your training and make sure your training needs are addressed throughout the course.

What type of roles exist in aged care?

The following is a list of varied roles that could apply, depending on your qualification and experience-level:

  • Care assistant / worker
  • Personal care giver / worker
  • Disability support worker
  • Community care / support worker
  • Home care assistant / worker
  • Residential care worker
  • In-home respite giver
  • Day activity worker
  • Home maintenance worker
  • Personal care assistant
  • Care supervisor
  • Care team leader
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