Tips for working in aged care

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I have been working in a 120-bed high care facility as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) for the last few years and if you are one of those blessed souls who want to work in aged care, here are some tips to prepare yourself.

Wyoming Nursing Home

  1. First, stop shaking. You will survive. Stop shaking 🙂
  2. Don’t listen to rumours, we really don’t bite (yummy).
  3. When you start at a nursing home, each new staff member is assigned a buddy. Listen to and make eye contact with your buddy. Buddies usually groan but it’s not personal. I usually have a little speech that if I am abrupt etc it’s not personal. Each one has their own peculiar behaviours or sometimes management is around or it’s because we’re having an off day. Phew!
  4. Show intiative. It makes us and residents feel you are interested in what you are doing.
  5. Smile. Be friendly. Families would request for someone else to look after their loved ones if it looks like you are going to get stuck. Explain that you are a student, they will understand.
  6. Read the Manual Handling Charts because you are part of the team. It would be good for everyone if you had an idea what we were doing. Makes you look good too 🙂 If you don’t know what something means, just ask. See tip no. 2.
  7. Remember that residents are people too so ensure their privacy and dignity are maintained. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember, not every resident in a nursing home is deaf. They will be very quick to tell you this.
  8. Chat to Fred while you are showering him but remember, we are a team and really need all players on the field. Clean up after yourself and take pride in the job that you have completed. Good on you if I don’t have to come along and finish off.
  9. Communicate with other staff as we really do want to help you to learn. Remember we have a vested interest in you doing a good job because your work will be a reflection of our teaching.
  10. It is possible to work and talk. (I know this but I am the quietest nurse in the nursing home, ha ha). If my colleagues read this, they will be in stitches.
  11. Ask questions. I repeat, ask questions. If you don’t ask you will not find out (hmm, sounds like the ‘Seek and you shall find’ saying eh?) Even if you think it’s a stupid question, it doesn’t matter.
  12. Be prepared to take part in some of the not so nice jobs, eg the pan room. We all have to do it, so we share the load. Also, strangely, a good place to escape if you just need a moment.
  13. Remember always that staff working in aged care have a weird sense of humour.
  14. Most of all realise that we are all doing the best we can and it is a privilege to be in a position where you can make a difference to someone’s day.
  15. Remember nursing in an aged care facility is not just about personal care. We interact with our residents continually during the day. You may just be the right person at the right place when someone needs a listening ear, a small task completed or when a family member needs either some reassurance or information.

Nursing in aged care is never boring. Aged care challenges you every day, emotionally, physically and mentally. At times you really wonder if you are getting anywhere and then you get a smile, a pat on the back or someone is able to do something they couldn’t do the day before.

I love it and will continue to fight for a fair deal for staff and our residents.

Image credit: Wyoming Nursing Home

8 COMMENTS

  1. I am trying to get a job in the aged care industry (entry level) . I would appreciate if anyone can give me more tips on how to do a good job in an aged care job and what are the difficulties one may encounter. Thank You.

  2. @ Kathleen,

    Taking an aged care course such as the certificate III in aged care or the certificate iii in home and community care is probably a good way to get into the aged care industry. They’re nationally recognised and accredited courses in Australia and are both quite practical.

  3. Working in aged care is a nightmare, there is no care due to budget constraints set out by the providers, they have to be viable and some residents are on a $3.50 per day budget for food. Relatives have unrealistic expectations of care and expect the same 1:1 care that they would provide in their home. A very high percentage of workers come from NESB and management are usually bullies.

  4. True. I work in house keeping and see care staff and nursing staff in extreme stress,it is highly advisable to check ratio of residents to carers or else you will be stressed. Management is more worried about budgets than care. All talk about care and stepping into their shoes is just illusion. The ground reality is some thing entirely different and sometimes shocking, believe me.

  5. I would like to work as a age care support worker in nursing home and I am recently working in community. I have done certificate III and I am overseas nurse as well.But the problem is no one is willing to give us an opportunity and it’s fraustating.

    • Hi Sujata. Try upgrading to a CerTificate IV in aged care at least as that is what most industry in aged care calls for at a minimum. Which is good. When I started in aged care in 2003 it was Cerificate 3. But it was 12 months long, back in 2003, and from Mayfield Education. I have noticed there are many courses which at the time tell people they can work in aged care with twelve weeks training. I have since become a nurse and still work in aged care. If you are passionate about the care you give please consider the above and maybe consider nursing after that. We need good carers in aged care and hate the s’vv we cop from the media although there are bad apples out there. Don’t give up. Cheers

  6. I have a certificate 4 in Aged Care and have tried to get a first job for 4 months now without success. Employers seem to all want at least one years experience and references. I have neither.

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