Aged care workers gain great satisfaction from their job.
Most aged care workers believe they are genuinely helping older people and improving their lives in their final days.
A member of HelloCare’s Aged Care Worker Support Group on Facebook recently asked members what inspired them to embark on a career in aged care.
While many different pathways to a career in aged care were revealed, what also became evident was the immense job satisfaction aged care workers glean from their job.
One told HelloCare she began her working life in medical research, but finds aged care far more satisfying.
“I spent another 12 months trying to find another job in that field, with no luck. It was actually my mum who suggested giving aged care a try, because of my caring nature and would be a job for life.
“I didn’t think I’d like it, but I love it more than my research job.”
Some had experiences caring for their own loved ones, which awakened in them an appreciation of older people and a desire to care for them.
“I watched all the carers come to Nana’s home to assist her when she was palliative,” wrote one carer. “Nan passed at home. The carers, nurses and doctors were wonderful and we were very grateful! So I followed their example.
“Now I am surrounded by Nans and Pops all day.”
Unsurprisingly, many chose to work in aged care because they enjoy the company of older people.
“I grew up with elderly aunts and uncles. I was a chef for 12 years and ended up cooking in a nursing home. Absolutely loved it. Was over cooking and they trained me up on the floor. Been in the industry ever since and still love my job,” wrote one satisfied aged care worker.
“I have heart for elderly people. There is a feeling of happiness, satisfaction and fulfilment when they are happy of my service,” wrote another.
Many said they embarked on a career in aged care for the job security it offered.
“I had been between jobs for four years, doing seasonal work every six months or so, and was over it. I needed a more stable and permanent job. Saw an ad in the paper for an aged care course and applied, got in and the rest is history. Five years later, I didn’t realise just how much I would love it, especially working in dementia.”
Others wanted the flexibility offered by a job in aged care.
“Needed something more flexible, lots of work available, easy to work close to home to fit with my kids but also something suitable for my nature. I enjoy the company of older people and think it is an honour to give something back to them in the final stage of their journey. They have so much wisdom and knowledge to share.”
Some turned to aged care when they felt they had few options.
“There was no HECs or help with fees when I was 17. My father had died and we couldn’t afford uni fees. I walked into a little 21-bed nursing home … the matron … hired me as a nursing assistant … now a PCW … and taught me everything over two years and then sent me off to do my nursing. Over 40 years later I’m still here.”
Many worked in childcare before turning to aged care.
“I was doing childcare in my younger years for a couple of decades. I loved it when I first started but over time I started to not like it so much, so I left. I then went into professional cleaning as I needed a job. Eventually, I applied for a domestic position with community care, then after a few years I got my cert 3 and the rest is history. It was the right choice and I really enjoy what I do.”
Another shared, “I used to work in childcare. The centre I worked at closed down while I was on maternity leave and other childcare jobs were few and far between so I had to evaluate what other jobs I could do.
HelloCare corresponded with dozens of aged care workers for this story. As well as the pride they have in their work and the satisfaction they gain for helping older people, many also expressed their disappointment that the aged care system means they are unable to deliver the standard of care they believe older people need and deserve.
Staff shortages, inadequate spending and lack of training all came up in our conversations about their frustrations.
“I do not love the garbage politics involved and the greedy providers. I am there for the residents only,” one wrote.
Another summed it up concisely.
“I love what I do. I wish it wasn’t as hard as it is at the moment.”