Starting a career in aged care: advice for those considering a role in the sector

Paulo Pavani, TAFE NSW Student of the Year

In this guest post, Paulo Pavani shares his views on what made him choose a career in aged care. Inside Ageing originally spoke with Paulo after he was recognised as TAFE NSW’s Student of the Year while completing a Certificate IV in Ageing Support and working as an Assistant in Nursing at BUPA Seaforth.

Have you ever enjoyed a 5-minute conversation while walking 10 metres side by side with someone you just met?

Have you ever found yourself being 100% present in a conversation, without thinking about something else?


Have you ever received an honest and loving ´thank you´ for something you usually take for granted?

Have you ever found yourself exhausted after work but with the best feeling and energy you could ever have?

Those are all questions I had when I started working in the aged care industry and it completely changed my life perspective. 

While people should not expect to have their life altered in every professional opportunity, we should aim to expose ourselves to environments and experiences that bring out the best in us.

Working in aged care allows us to be in touch with some of the most precious and uncertain aspects of life: time and love. Honest love and being present in the moment are two of the most important aspects of my short but life-changing 2.5-year journey and I am grateful that working in aged care helped me achieve that. 

With such a short journey in this industry, I acknowledge the necessity to acquire more theoretical and practical knowledge to be able to share my opinion on the recent changes impacting the future of the industry. However, I feel comfortable and motivated to share a few of my experiences with people that may not have considered a career in aged care.

With a professional background in Environmental Engineering in another country; under 30 years old when I started and being deeply connected with sports, I found on numerous occasions that people were surprised to hear that I work in aged care. 

As a person who has a positive approach towards life, I acknowledge there are considerable challenges for the aged care industry not only with clients´ accessibility to the services and standards of care, but also for workers dealing with cultural barriers, heavy workload, wages, and ethical matters. On the other hand, the industry is rapidly evolving with more options of service such as in-home care, development of specific legislation and ethical aspects, and a wide range of courses being made available by educational institutions such as TAFE NSW.  

Having chosen TAFE NSW in my personal journey was essential to my rapid and solid development, through a strategic structure of highly qualified teachers, excellent didactic materials and resources and a supportive network that allows every student to achieve their goals.

In the challenging and disruptive world we live in nowadays if you find yourself considering a career in the aged care industry or even just curious about the idea, I advise you to take risks, get out of your comfort zone and expose yourself. There is no guarantee that you will find a clear and easy professional pathway, but I assure you will expose yourself to a life-changing experience that may change your perspective on every single aspect of your life, just as it happened to me.  

Without any pretension of giving a step-by-step on how to start in the aged care industry, I gladly share some of my experiences and thoughts below that might help you on reflecting, considering your possibilities and planning your future endeavours: 

  1. Conduct extensive research on the sector and its characteristics. Try understanding the reality, challenges, work and educational opportunities, financial aspects and perhaps talking to people that have experience in the field. 
  2. Consider a volunteer experience to expose yourself to the work environment and its different challenges. This may help you gaining some clarity regarding a potential future in the sector.
  3. Assuming the first two steps were fullfilled; look for short courses (6-12 months) that will allow you to build the foundation skills and knowledge while you start working in the sector.  

Having the combination of theoretical studies and practical work experience will allow you to conduct a constant improvement process of your work and maximise the quality and effectiveness of the service being delivered to your clients. From there, a wide range of possibilities will be within your reach and it will be up to you to identify how, when and what the next step will be. 

I started my journey in the aged care industry believing I was helping my clients when in fact it is a collaborative, positive and respectful relationship where I am constantly learning and becoming a better human being.

If you are curious and interested in the industry I hope these insights from my journey can help.

Editor’s note: One of Inside Ageing’s agenda topics is the workforce and for this reason, we aim to carry stories that highlight the opportunity of working in the aged care sector and how to improve outcomes by using technology, innovation and learning. There is also a free service for employers to advertise jobs.

This story is able to be shared or re-published without infringing our copyright.

Employers are encouraged to use it as part of their own marketing.

Sean – Inside Ageing

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