The difference between some aged care positions can be either experience or qualifications
A well-organised and cohesive team of aged care staff can dramatically improve a resident's or client's quality of life
Each job has an important role in supporting older Australians who are receiving aged care service
These duties can revolve around basic housework, personal hygiene care or clinical care.
While some tasks are bigger or more demanding than others, these responsibilities all add up to creating a safe, comfortable living environment for an older person who can then receive quality aged care services.
Aged care worker or residential support worker
Older Australians can develop issues with doing day to day tasks and require assistance in undertaking these activities. Aged care workers are frontline staff that help older people achieve their goals and make sure they assist in enhancing the quality of life.
Aged care workers, personal care workers or carers can visit older people at their home or work within an aged care facility, and support them to achieve all the daily activities and tasks they require.
The clients low or high care needs are dependent on what assistance you provide. For instance, a low care client may only require basic help around the home, like cleaning, tidying, gardening, or transportation to medical appointments or social events.
In residential care, the services can be very similar but have the added assurance that a carer is always around the corner to help.
In some cases, aged care workers provide social support to their clients and help them attend social outings with friends and family, including visiting cafes or going on excursions.
Personal care can be provided by aged care workers, this entails showering, bathing, manual handling, and dressing assistance.
Otherwise, higher care clients may need help with preparing meals and drinks or need help eating food or drink. This includes the utilisation of food assistance technology, like special cutlery or feeding tubes/PEG tubes.
For some care staff, they may need to provide more clinical care like medication management, redressing wounds, helping with light physiotherapy exercises or assisting with mobility instruments.
Additionally, carers can assist with respite services and companionship.
Aged care workers need to be flexible and be able to work a variety of shifts, including late-night shifts or on the weekends.
Carers also need to be able to monitor the behaviour of their clients and notice any uncharacteristic changes to help identify any risks.
Community support worker/ lifestyle worker
There are a range of job roles that cover personal or clinical care, however, lifestyle and community support is also really important to the mental health of older Australians.
Community support or lifestyle workers aim to support a person-centred care approach which boosts the independence and choice of clients.
These can be undertaken at home, in residential aged care or in community centres.
Community support workers facilitate daily activities for individuals and make sure they are able to attend activities or social events and outings.
Some support workers will need to organise and plan recreational, social or educational activities for older people.
In some cases, community support workers will have to assist some of their clients with personal care or basic needs.
Similarly, a leisure and lifestyle worker aims to brighten the days of older people in aged care or in Centre Based Care (CBC) environments.
Generally, a lifestyle worker will develop and run leisure and lifestyle programs and encourage older residents or people to participate. These activities or programs need to enhance the wellbeing of seniors and promote healthy ageing.
It is a creative aged care industry job that really focuses on keeping older people engaged and happy during their stay in aged care or time at Centre Based Care.
Lifestyle workers need to be friendly, enthusiastic and social, and able to interact well with the older people and their families.
Additionally, they need to be able to perform lifestyle assessments of the residents to see what programs or activities they will benefit from and complete documentation of any changes to a residents situation.
Assistant in nursing (AIN)/ enrolled nurse (EN)
Registered nurses and enrolled nurses are both supported by an assistant in nursing (AIN), also known as nursing support workers.
An AIN doesn't have the same qualifications as an EN or RN would, however, they do deliver important, but limited, clinical care to residents in aged care.
AIN's do provide basic care and personal care like aged care workers, with the added experience of assisting with some clinical care.
Assisting residents with mobility equipment, helping with food and fluids, maximising a resident's physical function through rehabilitation and maintaining domestic aged care arrangements, are all duties for AINs.
Similar to RN's and EN's, AINs are held to a higher standard of care and policy than other aged care workers.
An AIN is expected to observe residents around any health or behavioural changes and document and report the changes.
Over recent years, there has been a rise in available assistant in nursing staff to support to RN's and EN's in aged care.
An enrolled nurse (EN) assists under a Registered Nurse (RN) and will be taking direction and be supervised for certain procedures by an RN.
As a health care professional, an EN will be keeping an eye on a resident's vital records and any behavioural changes, and report these changes to a RN.
A range of assessments can be taken by EN's, like physical examination, temperature taking, pulse, blood pressure, respiration, or blood sugar levels.
EN's can provide assistance with personal hygiene for older residents, like bathing, showering, dressing, toileting and more.
Additionally, EN's provide a lot of physical and emotional support for residents and their families.
EN's are also able to assist with any rehabilitation or exercise programs, and plan and evaluate nursing care plans for residents in partnership with an RN or health care team.
In an emergency, EN's will be involved and can also administer general first aid help.
Registered nurse (RN)
A registered nurse (RN) in a nursing home setting has the most responsibility in the facility.
Any medical strategies and assessments or nursing care plans are provided and organised by or through a RN.
Medical management and administration can be provided by a RN, and will evaluate how the medication has impacted a resident and their health or behaviour.
A RN manages other aged care workers within a facility while mentoring and training ENs, new RNs, or AINs.
Clinical care is an important part of a RN's responsibilities with an aged care facility.
Additionally, RN's have a lot of responsibility and accountability in their role, sticking to clinical policies and procedures in the aged care and health care sector.
RN's are also the main leadership during an infection control breach, like flu season, or major weather event.
Most RN's can provide complex pain management or some palliative care treatments and services.
Responsibilities in aged care
While all of these positions can have similar roles and duties, the main difference is the level of care and responsibility being provided to enhance the quality of life for older residents and clients.
Leadership in the sector is another important aspect. The chain of command relies on a cohesive team working together to support older residents and clients receiving aged care services.
It is vital for a variety of skills and experience to be available in each and every aged care organisation and service.
Is there a job in the aged care sector you find rewarding? Tell us in the comments below.