“Across all states and territories this May, there was improved year on year [y/y] growth on SEEK for aged and disability support job ads,” says Sarah Macartney, SEEK spokesperson. “The states with the greatest demand for aged and disability support professionals on SEEK in May 2017 were NSW [up 27 percent y/y], Victoria [up 56 percent y/y] and Queensland [up 27 percent y/y].”
This increase in job advertisements is hardly surprising; the Aged Care Road Map released last year stated over the next 35 years, it is expected the aged care workforce will need to nearly triple in size in order to be able to continue to provide support for consumers of aged care.
For people considering a career change, which SEEK revealed earlier this year as being nearly half the Australian workforce, many are looking to this growing sector for employment opportunities.
For some the change in career is about fulfilling a lifelong desire. Jane Moss worked in administration and customer service for over 20 years at RAA and JobFit. After completing her studies as an EN late last year, she commenced as a Life Care Home Support Worker in April.
"I had always wanted to be a nurse but my priority was to maintain my current job and raise my young family of 3 children. Now that my children are older I felt more confident to make a change and do something that I have long been passionate about,” she says. “I'm really enjoying the role and the flexibility. I love the clients’ life stories, life experience, the laughs and the variety in my day, as no day is ever the same.”
For others, the career change came about after realising they have a passion for caring. Hayley Williamson made the transition to Personal Training having worked in retail for seven years, and is now working with Life Care Active. “I became a personal trainer through one of the larger gyms and now I am studying for my Bachelor of Clinical Exercise and Physiology. When I was working at the gym I offered Strength for Life Classes which are specifically for people aged 50+ and I could definitely see the benefits. This is where my interest in working with older people started to grow,” she says.
Part of the attraction for her is clearly seeing the positive impact on the client's quality of life and improved social interaction. “It's so much more rewarding than working at a typical gym, you know you are making a difference in someone's life,” she adds.
Caring for his father with Alzheimer’s made Tony Wilson realise he actually wanted to work in a caring role instead of driving trucks and excavators. After 25 years of driving, he took a role with Just Better Care as a care worker. “I am now looking after and caring for people who have special needs and have found this to be the most satisfying and rewarding job I have ever had,” he says.
For Jacinda Anraad, it was her experiences in the process of getting her son diagnosed for a range of allergies that made her want to work in the care field. She left her position in education as a tutor and mentor at the University of Newcastle and is now studying for a degree and working for Southern Cross Care NSW & ACT. “I’d spoken to a lot of people in the profession before deciding to make the move so I had a pretty good idea of what it would be like. Everyone has just been wonderful and the home where I work is really well run so it’s lovely,” she says.
Mike Field, National Manager for carecareers, an organisation offering jobs, careers advice and courses for the care sector, predicts there will be a change in expectations from home care clients following the introduction of Consumer Directed Care. “People [clients] will be more assertive about what they want. That’s great in terms of job opportunities as it will bring more variety,” he says.
For people considering entering into the aged care industry Mr Field says they should take stock of their live experiences and not necessarily worry about a qualification at first. “Many employers do insist on aged care qualifications, but many don’t,” he says. “It’s often more about the person, and personal experience, and you can learn the technical stuff later.”
He suggests people who are interested in entering into in aged care may consider a volunteering role to get some experience in the sector and should be open to all opportunities. “There are lots of casual and part time opportunities, and people should be flexible," he says. "The industry offers lifestyle choices too, with working when you want to work."
As well as caring roles, Mr Fields highlights people can also transfer their skills, with the industry offering opportunities in other areas such as admin, maintenance, cooking and cleaning.
Ms Araad’s advice is to just give it a go. “If it’s something that interests you, then you’ll love it. Don’t be put off thinking it’s scary because it’s not. It’s really rewarding,” she says, adding the healthcare system needs good people. “They make it work,” she adds.