Aged care staff are taking on multiple roles at work, and they say the variety is making their jobs more enjoyable.
Jimmy My told HelloCare he was working as a personal carer when he was offered additional work as a cleaner.
“I thought, why not?” he said. “I really like (working in aged care). I enjoy interacting with clients and helping them to enjoy their days.”
The additional work not only provides some variety outside his usual duties, it also means an increase in his pay packet.
“It’s extra hours for me as well,” Jimmy noted.
Leeanne Pendlebury told HelloCare she works as a personal care assistant, as well as being a leisure and lifestyle assistant and continence nurse, and she orders the pads, skin lotion and barrier cream for the facility where she works.
“I thoroughly enjoy what I do,” she said.
She also does regular supermarket shopping for around 40 residents, collecting their money in individual bags, going to the supermarket and delivering their groceries.
“I find having the different roles very rewarding,” she said. “I love the extra interaction, and I get to find out more about the residents.”
Leanne said her empathy and friendly personality have helped her adapt easily to different jobs. “It makes you feel well rounded,” she said.
It seems this trend towards multi-skilling is part of a growing trend.
Many members of HelloCare’s Aged Care Workers Support Group have confirmed they also perform multiple roles within the one aged care facility, including working in the kitchen, helping with laundry, cleaning, being physio assistants and activities coordinators, and even working as hairdressers.
Though each role has its own pay rate, many are paid for their second roles at the higher personal care worker rate.
The trend is a positive one for the aged care sector, where providers often have difficulty hiring and retaining staff.
With the aged care sector expected to need one million direct care workers by 2050, enabling staff to perform multiple roles could be a way for management to hold onto hard-working and dedicated staff.
According to HESTA’s ‘Transforming Aged Care’ report, some of the main reasons aged care staff give for planning to leave their job are: physical strain, not getting enough hours of work, not being paid enough, lack of career options, and an inability to develop new skills.
If staff can work a number of different roles within the one home, that could alleviate some of those problems, and encourage them to remain employed at the facility for longer.
The flexibility may be particularly pertinent for mature workers who may wish to continue working but their capacity to continue with direct care is diminished as they grow older themselves.
The Aged Care Workforce Taskforce’s report ‘A matter of care’, states the capacity of mature workers to continue to work will depend on “their health and fitness to sustain the physical and emotional toll of care work.”
The Taskforce suggests factors that could help mature workers continue working in aged care could include “more diversity in their work”, for example, mixing care work with administrative tasks and shifting to less intensive work.
* Name has been changed.
Tell us about your work: do you perform multiple roles within the one aged care facility?