The Australian population is getting older yet people choosing aged care as a career is on the decline. Historically low rates of pay, the perception of a poor career structure and cultural stereotypes around caring roles are all elements that work against recruiting more aged care workers, particularly after a global pandemic that put pressure on an already struggling sector.
Local not-for-profit aged care provider Peninsula Villages is taking the challenge in its stride by recruiting aged care assistants and upskilling them internally through a customised training program. Most recently, Peninsula Villages has employed 10 new aged care assistants who have been offered the opportunity to enrol in an aged care traineeship and complete a Certificate III in Individual Support, all while working and building up skills on the job as assistants.
“Let’s face it, aged care doesn’t come across as the sexiest career choice for students looking to pursue a career in health, but what is appealing is the prospect of a role within a sector that is in demand, matched with a provider willing to pave the way for candidates to gain on-the-job training and qualifications at the same time,” explained Peninsula Villages’ Executive Manager of Quality & Organisational Development, Nicola Burton.
Peninsula Villages originally employed aged care assistants to provide a surge workforce during the pandemic. However, what they found during the interviewing process was potential candidates who wanted a role in aged care that was entry level, allowing them to see if the sector was the right choice for them before they took on the relevant studies and qualifications.
“Peninsula Villages is fortunate to have an extensive Learning and Development Team which means we have developed an in-house training program specifically to support our aged care assistants to ensure they are well equipped for taking on the role with a focus on supporting safe and quality care,” continued Ms Burton.
“The aged care assistant role was designed to provide quick entry to aged care based on a person’s passion and potential. The role focuses on freeing our care partners to provide care, so the assistants support that role. They deliver meals and laundry, gather equipment, spend time with residents who would like company and assist with wellbeing activities across our facilities,” she added.
As part of Peninsula Villages’ employment program, aged care assistants undergo two to three full days of in-house training followed by buddy shifts. Assistants are always working with another staff member as their role is designed to support staff to provide care, while they are undertaking their formal qualifications leading to a higher care role.
“With more than ten assistants enrolled in the past two months, we are excited with the opportunities we can provide these locals as they can enrol in an aged care traineeship and complete a Certificate III in Individual Support for free whilst learning on the job, building up skills and overall being paid at the same time,” continued Ms Burton.
Beyond the obvious advantages of choosing a career in a growing sector, Peninsula Villages also offers a range of additional benefits for its newest recruits.
“Peninsula Villages is a community owned provider, and our focus has always been on our residents and how we can support locals through providing care, employment or community based programs.
“As the largest aged care facility on the Central Coast, we have fantastic resource system for staff to utilise to help them grow and flourish. As a charitable organisation we offer salary packaging which means a larger portion of a staff member’s wages can be tax free, meaning that staff take home more pay than what they might working for a for-profit provider,” said Ms Burton.
The role isn’t only appealing to local young people, but many choosing to pursue a different career after the pandemic, one that is rewarding as well as empowering for our ageing community.
“The role is appealing to all age groups. We’ve had lots of applications from younger people who don’t want to commit to a full course of studying without knowing if aged care is the right career move for them,” continued Ms Burton.
“It has also become apparent that this role for us meets a community need as well. It can be difficult to recruit staff with intrinsic values that meet our organisation’s values and choosing people with the right goals is paramount to providing quality care.
“Peninsula Villages employs staff who choose to empower older people to live the life they choose. Employing people with shared values means you have the right people on board. We can then train them to provide the high-quality care that the residents and members of the community expect of Peninsula Villages,” she concluded.
Peninsula Villages employs more than 350 staff to support its 300 residents across residential aged care on the Central Coast. Aside from aged care assistants, the provider offers a range of career opportunities such as school-based apprenticeships, traineeships or roles for staff with more experience. For more information visit https://peninsulavillages.com.au/careers/