In this guest post, Amy Holton shares her views on what made her choose a career in aged care. The young RN now Facility Manager at Alino Living, has progressed within the aged care sector and wants to shift the perspective about the benefits of working within the industry as opposed to more typical nursing pathways in the medical field.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a nurse, but it wasn’t until my Nan died that I even knew about residential aged care. Following her death, my mum started working as an AIN in an aged care facility. She would spend hours talking to me about her day and how fulfilled she felt after her shift. I was in awe of her passion, so I set out determined to pursue my nursing interest with a focus on working in aged care.
At 16, I commenced a 12-month traineeship working towards my Certificate III in Aged Care. It didn’t take long to realise I too shared the same passion and enthusiasm as my mum. After 8 years working in Aged Care, I finally made the decision to enrol in a Bachelor of Nursing degree to further my skills and knowledge and progress in my career within an industry I absolutely loved.
There’s no denying that aged care was a less popular choice to pursue amongst my nursing peers. Medical and hospital nursing, rehabilitation, midwifery and surgical pathways were all the rage. Even intensive care, community health and paediatrics seemed to trump any interest in aged care. But, aged care offers so much more than it is ever given credit for and here’s why:
There are a variety of avenues to choose from when thinking about Aged Care including care services, domestic services, diversional therapy and you have the flexibility and support to transition to other areas within an organisation.
The skills you learn within your training and experience can often be utilised in your personal life at some point in time. Being patient, setting goals and seeking support from others.
The aged care industry is always changing and evolving and is consumer focused to ensure better outcomes and experiences. It allows you to really focus on the resident and you have the time to build a relationship with them, understand who they really are and help them to plan their care and achieve their goals. You are there to care for them when they are unwell but also celebrate their accomplishments.
You have the time to spend with them and their loved ones supporting them through difficult conversations including care trajectory and end-of-life care.
Aged care offers a truly holistic approach to health where you can consider the entire person and work on addressing all of their needs, not just the thing they were ‘admitted for’.
You are responsible for conducting the same patient assessments you would in an acute setting and escalate your findings to their GP allowing you to build strong relationships with clinicians who are so supportive and forthcoming with information to assist you with your development of care interventions. This builds your confidence, and you find yourself making suggestions to the GP for investigations before the situation deteriorates.
You are the leader of your team and you get to work with some of the most empathetic and passionate people, everyone works in this sector because they care and have the same goal of wanting to help make those living in Aged Care have dignity and respect they deserve.
Personally, I am proud of the pathway I have made within aged care. I started working at Alino Living in February 2017 as an ACFI Coordinator, moved into the role of ACFI and Admissions Manager two years later, and then got promoted again in December last year to Facility Manager at Lake Haven Court.
As a young person working within a residential aged care community, I believe we need to reframe that negative COVID publicity. We need to reposition this vital care work from being a ‘job’ to being a rewarding career. I see day in and day out that aged care workers generally have a very high level of job satisfaction. We know the work we do is deep work, it’s important work, it’s about gratitude, it’s about caring and being grateful.
It’s a very rewarding and satisfying setting to be in and would urge anyone considering nursing or the aged care sector to try a trainee program or gain placement within a community to understand how fulfilling it is as a career choice. We are all ageing and we need more young people to choose aged care so we can gracefully age with the support we will need.
Editor: Workforce and training is an agenda topic for Inside Ageing. We welcome news and guest posts to do with improving access in this area. Submissions can be sent to the news desk: firstname.lastname@example.org