Some of the most overlooked and unsung heroes in our society are the wide spectrum of people working in aged care – we simply must do better at recognising the amazing work they do on a daily basis.
This is the rationale that led to the official creation and launch of ‘Aged Care Employee Day’ which is today August 7 – a day for the entire aged care workforce.
‘Aged Care Employee Day’ is designed to celebrate each and every team member involved in the journey of caring for people who receive aged care services – from the nurses and care workers, to the cooks and hospitality teams, to the drivers, cleaners and laundry employees, to the volunteers, to the leisure and lifestyle officers and administration teams.
Through their work, these people often develop meaningful relationships with our older loved ones – becoming defacto family members in the process. Their dedication to what is a rewarding, yet regularly challenging profession in which they devote themselves to caring for others sets them apart.
While initiatives like International Nurses Day do exist, they only touch a very small percentage of the incredible people involved in the industry (over 8-in-10 employees in the aged care workforce work in roles outside of a registered nurse, enrolled nurse or nurse practitioner).
Aged care specialists The Whiddon Group recognised this issue and resolved to change it by creating the new day, a cause that has already gained support from from Federal Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the national peak body representing and supporting providers of age services.
Chris Mamarelis, CEO, The Whiddon Group, said: “We have long felt that some of the most unsung heroes in our society are aged care employees – all of them. While Whiddon has always been committed to showing our own team members how much we care, we felt that was simply not enough and that everyone in the industry deserves special recognition and a day to pay homage to the valuable work they do.
“We often leverage our strong community connections and engage families, friends and community groups to help care for older Australians, ensuring they achieve a healthy quality of life. But, this often means people who work in aged care are putting others’ needs before their own, which is why we need to celebrate their hard work.
“Therefore, we came up with the idea to officially create ‘Aged Care Employee Day’ – a day to allow everyone to say a huge thank you to these selfless people and a day to celebrate the people behind our entire industry.”
The crucial work that those employed in aged care do will only get more vital as Australia’s population continues to age. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there were 3.7 million (15%) Australians aged 65 and over in 2016.
This figure is expected to continue to rapidly grow, with 8.7 million older Australians (22% of the population) projected by 2056.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr McComack said it was important to recognise the hard work of people in the aged care sector.
“Aged care is becoming increasingly important as the community’s median age continues to increase,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Federal Government recognises this. This is why we invested more than $3.6 million, thorough the Building Better Regions Fund Infrastructure Projects Stream towards improving the Whiddon Group’s aged care facilities in Temora, a town in my electorate.
“A dedicated day to recognise the selfless work of these upstanding community members, whether it be in administration or as a Registered nurse or anywhere in between, is a fantastic way to show our appreciation for all the work they do for the older residents in our communities.”
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt AM praised the initiative saying: “I congratulate the Whiddon Group and all their staff on this inaugural Aged Care Employee Day. I have had the pleasure of meeting many members of Whiddon’s team and seeing first-hand the care provided.
“A proud and professional workforce is the foundation for quality aged care, with staff dedicated to their residents and focused on making caring a career of choice.
You deserve the highest community appreciation every day of the year, as you care for the older Australians who built the nation we cherish today. Thank you.”
Sean Rooney, CEO of LASA congratulated The Whiddon Group on this initiative: “The aged care workforce is an essential workforce and must be a high priority for the nation. It is important to acknowledge how aged care workers make a positive difference in the lives of older Australians – 24 hours a day, seven days week, year in year out. This is something our industry is immensely proud of and something our nation is very grateful for.”
Retention and turnover in aged care is a longstanding problem in the sector, reflecting the demands of the job. Retaining and appreciating the right staff not only has important benefits for organisations, but also for the community and continuity of care for our loved ones.
Therefore, making sure we take the time to show we care is on all of us.