Michelle Adams is in the final stages of completing a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community). She wanted to make the shift from a career in logistics to one that gave her the personal satisfaction of being able to make a difference in people’s lives. It turned out to be the right decision, while attending an interview for her course work placement, she was offered a full time job!
With two assignments to go on her course, Michelle has found work as a Specialised Carer for Anthem Care for Life in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. She primarily cares for older people suffering from Alzheimer’s (also known as dementia) – a neurodegenerative disease which inhibits language and memory. Residential care facilities, such as Anthem Care for Life, provide for their residents’ every need.
Before coming to aged care, Michelle worked within a corporate environment.
“I spent 30 years in the logistics field, and I needed a life change, so when the chance came to take a redundancy package, I took it!”
Michelle used this opportunity to undertake a significant career shift.
“I wanted to work with people, and to go home at the end of the day feeling like I had done something good. I thought aged care would be ideal. We have a huge aging population in the Southern Highlands, so I knew that work would be readily available. I started searching for a course that would suit me, and I found Open Colleges.”
The Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community), taught Michelle how to provide individualised, personal support to older people and people with disabilities, both in residential and in-home care. She learnt a holistic approach that’s focused on providing both physical aspects of care and social, emotional and psychological support for people in need.
From work placement to a permanent position
The Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community) and the Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) require students to undertake a minimum of 120 hours work placement in order to prepare them for employment. Nearing the end of her studies, Michelle approached Anthem Care for Life to enquire about undertaking her placement at their Bowral facility.
“I knew quite a bit about Anthem Care for Life, which is very close to where I live in Moss Vale and was really keen to get a placement there,’ she explains. “I was thrilled when they told me at the interview that I had been accepted, not just for the placement, but for a permanent position!”
The interviewers recognised the unique skills and knowledge Michelle had gained from the course, which made her an ideal candidate for a role as a Specialised Carer with the facility.
Michelle found that it was possible to continue her studies while working in the field. It also gave her the chance to apply what she had learnt in a real-life setting and witness the positive outcomes for herself.
“It’s a challenge to complete the course while working,” she says, “but I was excited to get out there and start doing the actual day-to-day work involved, especially the clinical aspects, which I really enjoyed learning about.”
Taking care of people’s everyday needs
Working in individual and disability support means taking care of people’s everyday needs. Michelle undertakes a variety of tasks on a daily basis, all aimed at improving the lives of Anthem Care for Life’s residents.
Michelle’s day is a busy one. “I care for fourteen residents in a dementia unit, and I assist them with daily tasks. For instance, I sit down with them at meal times and give them any help they need.”
An important part of Michelle’s role is helping her clients feel more grounded. “People who suffer from Alzheimer’s might forget how to do very basic things, like feeding themselves, so you need to sit with them and show them how to do it. It’s a matter of treating them like you would a member of your own family who can’t remember how to put a spoon in their mouth.”
As well as physically caring for residents, Michelle spends time socialising with them, keeping them busy and ensuring that they are content.
“I often sit down with residents and do any activities they might want to do. So, we might do some craft in the afternoon, or watch a movie, and I might give them a massage on their shoulders or their hands. Anything that keeps them calm and happy.”
The traits and rewards of individual care
Working with older members of the community, means being aware of, and in-tune with, the needs of others. Michelle’s excellent interpersonal skills make her a naturally intuitive and sensitive carer.
“Sometimes, especially in high care, where people might be wheelchair-bound or unable to verbalise their needs, you need to pre-empt what they want, she explains. “So you might say to them, ‘Okay, you look cold. You don’t have enough clothes on. Let’s get a coat. Let’s get a blanket.’ You need to be very switched on to their needs.”
Michelle’s work improves the lives of the residents under her care, but it has plenty of benefits for her too. “Ultimately,” she says, “my residents love having the care and the attention, and I love walking out of work every day feeling really good.”
Interested in a career helping others?
If you’re interested in a rewarding career in individual support or disability support, check out everything you need to know about the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community) and the Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) with Open Colleges.