What qualifications do I need to work in aged care?

In the aged care industry, there are many different positions a professional can pursue, each having specific qualifications that are necessary to ensure aged care workers can provide a standard of care specific to their role. Knowing these requirements can help individuals decide which career path to take in the aged care industry and match future aged care workers to the qualifications for aged care and even qualifications for disability support that will get them there.

community visitors scheme

Aged care refers to the support and assistance provided to elderly individuals who may require help with daily activities or medical care, and encompasses a wide range of services like personal care, domestic duties, residential care, palliative care, individual support, mental health support and specialist care. Aged care is emerging as a sleeping giant issue as more countries globally are forced to reconcile with issues like low birth rates and an ageing population, a discussion from which Australia is not immune.

Having qualified workers who have undergone age care training in the aged care sector is crucial for ensuring the well-being and safety of elderly individuals first and foremost. Qualified aged care workers possess the skills, knowledge and experience to provide the appropriate care and support to these aged people. They are trained to understand the unique needs and challenges faced by older people like physical limitations, cognitive decline and chronic health conditions and to empower and support them through these challenges.

These compassionate people play a vital role in promoting the independence, dignity and quality of life of older adults, they do this by assisting them with daily tasks, administering medications, monitoring their health and providing companionship, sometimes in the place of family members, in what can easily become an isolating time. The modern aged care worker is also trained to handle emergencies and respond effectively to any medical or behavioural issues that may arise. Their expertise and professionalism contribute to creating a safe and nurturing environment for elderly individuals, ensuring they receive the care they deserve.


The Aged Care Sector

The aged care sector in Australia is characterised by its challenges, which need to be addressed. One of the main challenges is our aging population, which means that there is an increasing number of elderly individuals who require care and support. This puts a strain on the aged care sector as it needs to provide services to meet the growing demand.

Another challenge is the shortage of qualified workers in the aged care sector. With the increasing demand for services, there is a need for more skilled and trained professionals to provide quality care to the elderly. However, despite the positive projected job growth in this field, there is a shortage of workers, which makes it difficult to meet the needs of Australian elderly people.

This shortage is particularly acute in regional and remote areas, where it can be difficult to attract and retain staff due to a lack of infrastructure and services. To address these challenges, the sector is working to improve working conditions and increase training and education opportunities for workers. Additionally, the government is investing in the sector to ensure that it can meet the growing demand for aged care services in the future


Aged Care Qualifications

While many great entry-level positions seldom require much in the way of minimum standard qualifications, most reputable organisations will nevertheless still require formal qualifications.

Before even venturing into formal qualifications, the first requirements you will need to meet will vary between states, but they will almost always meet the following basic screening criteria:

  • A Working With Children (called a Blue Card in Queensland) check
  • A Working With Vulnerable People (WWVP) check
  • A police check
  • Proof of current compliance with all necessary vaccinations, e.g.: COVID-19 and Influenza
  • A first aid certificate and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification

Securing the above before beginning your journey into becoming an aged care worker will make much of the process smoother. Many employers in residential care facilities and other organisations with elderly clients value workers who show initiative and are prepared to start quickly.

Further on from obtaining these basic aged care worker screening criteria, there are formal qualifications that aged care facility employers look for, like:


Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing)

This course focuses on the human body and how to provide support for its well-being as it ages. It emphasises the importance of creating personalised care plans, effectively communicating with elderly people, adhering to ethical and legal standards, and adhering to safety guidelines.

Certificate III in Individual Support can also provide guidance on providing support to elderly clients with dementia, following infection control protocols and promoting the independence and overall welfare of the clients.


Certificate IV in Ageing Support

The objective of Certificate IV in Ageing Support is delivering high-quality and personalised services to elderly people in need of specialist care. This program equips students with the skills required to develop, evaluate and modify individualised care plans.

It also focuses on nurturing leadership skills to assist and collaborate with colleagues, covering topics like the empowerment of older people, promoting independence and well-being, identifying and addressing risks, social activities and providing support to diverse patients.


Diploma of Nursing

By completing this diploma, students acquire the skills to pursue a career as a nurse in an aged care facility. Aspiring individuals interested in working with elderly people will learn how to provide care for elderly residents with complex needs, effectively communicate with them, assess and oversee nursing care plans, handle wounds and adhere to legal and ethical standards.

The course also includes in-depth teachings on anatomy and physiology, medication administration and infection control so that upon completion students will be eligible to register as an enrolled nurse.


Bachelor of Nursing

To work as a registered nurse in an aged care facility, it is essential to have a Bachelor of Nursing degree. This degree takes approximately three years to complete and provides a comprehensive education to students on all aspects of aged care, health and safety guidelines, emotional support, domestic duties and all the minutiae of life in a residential facility. It provides a comprehensive education to students on all that which aged care workers provide to elderly residents.

With this degree, nurses can work at the highest level in aged care facilities and provide clinical care to the elderly. The degree also helps students develop effective communication and leadership skills, as well as the ability to think creatively and logically while being reflective and honest in their work for a long and rewarding career with high job satisfaction.

residential aged care

Job Positions for Aged Care Workers

The employment prospects for aged care workers are very promising. Even over the pre-COVID period of 2014 to 2019, the industry witnessed an increase of 45,800 jobs, which accounts for a growth rate of nearly 35%. Of these there are also abundant entry-level positions available, making it an ideal starting point for a career with substantial growth potential.

There is a high demand for aged care workers as Australia’s issue of ageing inhabitants cannot be rectified quickly. Because the pandemic continues to leave a legacy of bringing new appreciation for the healthcare sector, aged care workers are highly sought after, with recent successful industrial action seeing an agreement met to raise pay rates.


Final Thoughts

Aged care offers various positions, each requiring specific qualifications. These qualifications ensure that aged care workers can provide appropriate care to elderly individuals. Aged care workers play a crucial role in promoting the independence, dignity and quality of life for older adults. They are trained to understand the unique needs and challenges faced by older people and provide support through these challenges. The aged care sector in Australia faces challenges due to the population ageing and a shortage of qualified workers. To address these challenges, the sector is working on improving working conditions and increasing training opportunities. When pursuing a career in aged care, it is important to meet basic screening criteria such as background checks and first aid certification. Formal qualifications like certificates, diplomas and bachelor degrees are also valuable for a support worker. These qualifications provide the necessary skills and knowledge to provide quality care to elderly individuals. The employment prospects for aged care workers are promising, with a high demand for skilled professionals in the industry. Pursuing a career in aged care can be rewarding and offers substantial growth potential, making it an excellent option for those looking for a fulfilling career.

With many options to start you on your way to becoming an aged care worker, a registered training organisation like First Aid Pro that offers more than just a nationally recognised qualification, but uses face-to-face teaching time to impart real skills to get students job-ready.