The responsibilities of care, both formal and informal, paid and unpaid, should never be underestimated.
In aged care, caring is at the heart of what we do.
At the core it is how we support our most fragile and vulnerable seniors and it comes with a weight of responsibility.
As humans we greatly desire connection, community and comfort but far too often as we age health concerns and isolation intensify and our community and connections begin to fall apart.
It is often, at this time, our aged care workforce is required to step in and care for vulnerable ageing Australians.
Carers in aged care facilities are providing not just practical, physical, clinical support, but also emotional support day in and day out.
As they care for hundreds of residents, many carers willingly dip into their mental and emotional reserves to help, cherish and love.
This in turn increases the vulnerability of our workforce. Humans do not have an endless supply of physical strength, the same extends to our emotional resilience.
Most personnel working within aged care have experienced or seen a fellow colleague take varying levels of abuse from families and even the community at times.
When it comes to the intimate work of caring for senior loved ones, emotions can be charged high and anger can be channelled towards those that do not deserve it.
Staff within the aged care sector have often spoken of the difficulty managing abuse from families and even residents.
The often stressed and pressured state that families find themselves when entering aged care is a contributing factor and families should have the opportunity to express their concerns surrounding care.
At the same time, our employees should be seen as the human beings they are and deserve the right to a safe workplace.
No one wishes or deserves to work in a verbally or physically unsafe workplace.
Media coverage into aged care exacerbates the situation.
Reporting generally only focusses on the negative, the failures and acts of misconduct and neglect within the aged care sector.
Other aspects of truth remain untold.
The overwhelming take home message from some coverage is to presume those working within the industry are not caring when, there are literally tens of thousands of people who are dedicated, hardworking and selfless working within aged care system.
Most aged care staff cherish their work and the residents within their care.
As this industry moves into a phase of greater scrutiny through the Royal Commission, and no doubt, greater media interest, the need for everyone to lend a thought to the social and emotional wellbeing of our aged care workforce is even more important.
So, what can we do.
A starting point is to recognise our workforce, say thank you and give someone a pat on the back for their hard work.
For our workforce, our CEO, Matthew Richter, said it best last week in response to a question at an industry event - look after each other, look out for each other, and keep in the fore front of your mind the valuable contribution you make to this society every day.
Australian Aged Care Guild