Aged care workers are the backbone of our industry. Today’s Aged Care Employee Appreciation Day and next month’s Thank You for Working in Aged Care Day on 10 September, are an excellent opportunity to thank those you know working in the sector.
Whether they be nurses, carers, managers, activities staff, cooks, cleaners, or part of the multitude of other hardworking and dedicated people caring for senior Australians, at home or in residential care.
The report released today, Working Well in an Aged Care Home by Dr Sarah Russell, is a reminder of the reasons to thank the valued staff working tirelessly to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
It is important these stories are shared to help attract the aged care workers of the future, to ensure Australia has the necessary staff needed to care for our rapidly increasing older population.
So, what do aged care workers enjoy most about their chosen career?
Of the staff surveyed for the report, there were two common themes; caring for others and their workplace.
Caring for Others
“Working as an Assistant in Nursing brings out the best in me.”
When asked about their favourite aspects of working in aged care, many of the participants listed caring for others, building relationships, and being appreciated, often describing their work as ‘rewarding’ and ‘a privilege’.
24 per cent of participants explained they enjoy caring for residents and providing the best care they can; for many, job satisfaction comes from doing their job well. They see care to be not only about the resident, but also the resident’s family and friends.
“Unlike the acute setting, with residential aged care it is usually long-term care, so you get to know the residents and family/friends/loved ones well. This creates a unique opportunity for staff to be able to provide individualised care (big or small) to cater for specific needs and wants of resident to create positive differences in their lives. This may be that you know exactly how someone likes a cuppa or being able to appreciate unique talent in music or crafts. It is about knowing what can put a smile on each resident’s face. That is what makes me go back to work.”
Overwhelmingly, 43 per cent of participants expressed they enjoy spending time with those they care for, getting to know them on a personal level, and helping make the often-stressful transition into residential aged care as smooth as possible.
“I love the rapport I build with the residents. Most of all I love the interactions and friendships (yes friendships) I have established with many of the residents.”
Others expressed they appreciated the continuity of care and the opportunity to apply a holistic approach to how they care for residents.
“I love to treat the whole person, to maximise their function and mobility as part of a team approach. To enable them to live as full and independent lives as possible by improving or at least maintaining their strength, flexibility and mobility. To listen to their history and stories of their rich lives to date.”
Many said they found working in aged care rewarding, satisfying and worthwhile; participants described their work as making a difference, finding satisfaction in contributing to residents’ quality of life.
“Being a carer can be rewarding, and challenging, it is emotional and trying, and allows you to care for the most vulnerable people in society, the residents rely on us to be there for them not just physically but emotionally too.”
Staff acknowledged that for many people, moving into residential care meant the end of life and described the privilege of caring for residents until the very end.
“Their knowledge and experience of life is just amazing. I enjoy when I have time to stop and listen… I believe I get as much out of it as they do.”
“Every day is different. There are sad moments, but more importantly there are magic moments that we will treasure for the rest of our lives.”
Participants also noted they enjoyed being appreciated for their efforts, including that it made their job all the more worthwhile.
“Always getting thanked for being so caring warms my heart to know we are trying to make their lives more comfortable.”
Participants interviewed listed a number of reasons they enjoyed their workplace. Some enjoyed the varied nature of the work stating, ‘no two days are the same and no two residents are the same’. Others enjoyed the ongoing training and the opportunity to be mentored by colleagues passionate about the work they do, as well as the flexible working hours.
Registered nurses described enjoying their work because they found it ‘clinically challenging’, explaining that working with older people required them to use their clinical skills more often, as residents typically have complex and chronic health issues.
“I like that I can independently assess, diagnose, plan, intervene and evaluate as a Registered Nurse…. I also love the continuity of care here in aged care.”
A big thank you…
To all those working in aged care, on behalf of the Aged Care Guild, we would like to say a sincere thank you. Thank you for devoting your time to caring for our parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and friends.
We encourage you to support our aged care workers by participating in these appreciation days; whether it be saying thank you to those you know working in the industry, posting on social media, or, if you are a provider, holding a small event or doing something special for staff members.
Appreciating our aged care workers and changing the narrative of what it means to work in this industry is more important than ever. Australia needs a plan for aged care to ensure the industry can attract the staff needed to care for senior Australians now and into the future.
Interested in more information? Click here to read the full report