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 checking-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 per cent 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 instill 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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