The importance of the ‘human element’ when training aged care workers

Training aged care workers

Caring for the elderly is a huge responsibility and, as many aged care workers will tell you, a huge blessing.

When training to care for the elderly, many carers can get caught up in the mundane theory of the work. They find themselves simply check-listing their work and doing the tasks that are expected of them.

But in being so task-oriented, what happens is that the carers can “forget” what is really the most important part of their work – the resident.

There is a “human element” that is too often overlooked when caring for the elderly. And the focus needs to be realigned to the value of the work at hand.

To offer the best care, there needs to be acknowledgement that there is a real person here in need – someone who has lived a long life, who may have achieved great things, contributed to society, cared for their family and community.

This is who carers are working with, not just an elderly person who cannot do things for themselves.

While elderly people may need help with cooking, cleaning, bathing and eating, there is also much that they can teach a younger person.

Elderly people, like everyone in society, are rich in character, and while caring for them can teach younger people the importance of care and compassion, there are things unique to the individual older person that a carer can cherish.   

Theory is not enough to teach someone how to adequately care for the elderly, it’s also essential for the student and future carer to understand the value of their work.

By giving a new perspective on how they should care for the elderly, it creates a new way of thinking about a sector of society that either gets overlooked or is seen as a burden.

Home caregiver with senior woman sitting on bed

There is this generalised idea where the public view older people as a burden rather than an asset – this notion that the elderly cost money to care for and give very little back.

Older people cost the healthcare system far more than any other age group put together.

But that mentality only looks at the present moment, and not the person as a whole – their past, their life, their family and their achievements.

In taking on this new perspective, in showing why it is important to care for the elderly, it changes the quality of work and the quality of care offered.

And anything that can improve the care older Australians receive, should definitely be of importance to anyone considering a career in aged care.

The 2016 Aged Care Workforce report, published by the Department of Health, showed that 86.4% of personal care assistants had worked in other industries or not worked at all prior to starting their first job in aged care.

Which highlights the important role of training organisations to not only teach quality theory but also instil values, practical competence and professionalism of care before graduates enter the workforce.

The Sarina Russo Institute have a number of courses that balance the importance of theory while also emphasising the value of the work that is undertaken.

The Diploma of Community Services or the Certificate III in Community Services provides students with a pathway to various roles in the Community Services sector.  

While their Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Disability) capitalises on an industry with great career opportunities, providing a course that gives job seekers a qualification and entry into an industry which helps people in need.

Through the integration of learning with practical placements and workplace case studies, students will be prepared to work in a variety of roles with confidence and competence expected of this important job.

Sarina Russo

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  1. My main aim is to take great care of my body by exercising daily and staying as healthy as possible. I call this my “survival mode” this has been brought about by my fear of nursing homes. Being a former nurse, I’m acutely aware that no matter how good a nursing home might be, they only have the minimum staff required by law and some carers lack the compassion required to interact with the aged.

    No resident should have to live out their final years being treated like a number, loosing their voice/ independence and dignity. Staff don’t have the time to spend quality time with the residents who experience debilitating loneliness.

    One only has to spend time visiting or volunteering at a nursing home to quickly realize the many inadequacies. These places don’t resemble a happy home, they are institutions for those who find themselves unable the care for themselves.

    1. Thanks Helen you hit the nail on the head. I have worked in nursing homes as an AIN and as a Leisure and Lifestyle Activities Officer. I felt that when I was doing the activities with the residents that I wasnt given enough time to be able to give the residents quality interactions for them to be stimulated enough for their well being and socialization with other people. I then went back to nursing and was as much frustrated when I worked with other carers who took their work on as a JOB only and didn’t treat residents with respect and care that they needed and craved for. I ended up having many disagreements with staff and management and it lead to my employment being terminated as I wasn’t a robot doing what management wanted. I now do in home care and love this work as the clients can do what they like and I just assist them and give quality care and companionship

  2. Thank you for your editorial
    I have worked in the aged care sector for almost 30years. Now training future care workers in individual support and leisure and health.
    I am driven and passionate about instilling the value and asset of our elderly and disabled in our Society.
    This story is inspirational and people working in community sector should revisit their ethics and workplace practices.
    Quality training is the future, not just for novice workers but long term staff that have need refocusing.
    Small things ripple out to change.

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