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What skills do you need to work in aged care?

by Chloe Baird

The aged care industry in Australia is currently seeing significant growth. This is due to our ageing population, which has been slowly increasing. 

This makes working in aged care a great choice for people who are looking for a stable and reliable career that can also offer them room for growth. It is also an ideal vocation for people who are patient, positive, compassionate and who are committed to helping elderly people live dignified lives.  

What is aged care?

Put simply, aged care is the support provided to elderly people either in their own home or at an aged care facility (otherwise known as a nursing home). 

The range of services provided to people relying on aged care varies greatly, depending on the level of care required. 

Some of your duties as an Aged Care Worker might include helping with everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, paying bills, or going to the grocery store. Or it could include a higher level of service for people with less mobility, which might mean helping them get dressed, feed themselves, and maintain their personal hygiene.

What are the characteristics of a great Aged Care Worker?

Because of the wide-ranging duties required of an Aged Care Worker, you can see how this industry attracts people who are naturally caring themselves. Many people who join the industry have had real-life experience as a carer – whether that is for children or elderly relatives. 

Some of the qualities a good Aged Care Worker will need are as follows. You’ll need to be:

  • discrete
  • respectful
  • positive
  • service-orientated
  • empathetic
Aged Care Worker Meeting

What are the top skills needed to work in aged care?

What are some of the skills needed to be a good Aged Care Worker? Some of the skills you will need to begin a career in aged care include: 

1. You need to have good communication and listening skills
Some elderly people may be lonely, whether they are living at home or at an aged care facility, and they may just want to have a chat. You should be able to sit down and spend time with them, and genuinely listen to what they have to say. And you never know – you could also hear some amazing stories. 

You should also learn to read between the lines. It could be that your clients aren’t feeling themselves, and this could be due to some deeper issue they can’t or don’t want to, tell you about. You’ll need to use your intuition in times like this to make sure you’re providing your clients with the right kind of care they need. 

2. You need to be an adept multi-tasker

Every day will be different as an Aged Care Worker, and you may be caring for multiple clients on any given day. As your daily tasks could include a range of different things – cooking, cleaning, making sure your client gets to their appointments on time – you need to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once, as well as ensuring that all your duties are completed to perfection. 

3. You need to be responsive and flexible

As well as being organised, you also need to be flexible and be able to react quickly when things change. If something happens throughout the day that wasn’t part of the original plan, you need to be able to work well under pressure and respond as the situation changes. 

And, as you’ll be dealing with many different people every day, you need to be flexible enough to respond to their different needs and wants. The same type of care doesn’t work for everyone, and you need to remember that all your clients will have their own distinct personalities and preferences. 

4. You need to be physically fit

Being an Aged Care Worker is a physical job that will require you to be on your feet a lot, and you may also need to help clients with mobility issues. So while no-one is expecting an Aged Care Worker to look like an Olympic weight lifter, you do need to be prepared for the physical demands of the job.  

5. You need to be respectful and professional

This might sound a little obvious, but to work in aged care you need to have respect for the elderly and to always maintain a very high level of professionalism. It’s important not to make assumptions about someone based on their age or their mobility, and to always treat your clients with the utmost respect. 

6. Most of all, you need to be supportive and caring

Getting old can be hard. And sometimes, elderly people are just looking for someone to empower them, to make them feel cared for and heard. Your job as an Aged Carer will involve so much more than simply caring for someone’s physical needs and helping them with their daily routine – you could be providing comfort to someone and making a real difference in their life. 

How do I become an Aged Care Worker?

Do you have the right kind of personality traits to become an Aged Care Worker? Does a rewarding and stable career in aged care sound like something you would love to pursue? 

Open Colleges offers the CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community), which can help you find employment across the country as an Aged Care Worker. 

While it’s not strictly necessary to have a qualification to begin working in Aged Care, having a nationally recognised VET qualification will definitely help your career prospects. As part of Open Colleges’ Certificate III, you’ll also have the opportunity to participate in 120 hours of work placement. This means that you’ll gain hands-on, real-world experience, and you might even get a job offer out of it.  

Are you ready to take the first steps towards a fulfilling career in aged care? Get studying and unlock your potential today

Please note: Work placement opportunities are available in South Australia with our industry leading Aged Care partner, Southern Cross Care (SA, NT & VIC) Inc. Find out more here.

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