Shattering stereotypes one Gen Y at a time.

There are so many barriers for young people to get into aged care professions. We hear it all the time from organisations that young people are unprofessional, disloyal, self-centred (blah blah blah). But in reality they are missing out on a generation who are our next leaders and WE have the opportunity to help ignite their passion for a career that makes a difference to the lives of so many.

In the US, nearly one quarter of adult carers are between 18-34, they are beginning to shoulder more responsibilities as their parents and grandparents begin to age - especially as Gen Ys are likely to have postponed marriage, buying a house, or having children (Bahrampour, 2015). While it’s difficult to find statistics on this in Australia, we know that more and more Generation Ys are undertaking these caring roles. The added benefit is that they see their parents and grandparents more as friends, and have a greater understanding of ageing realities.

I recently met a young carer. She is 17 and just finished her Certificate III in Aged Care. You may think she’s young and not prepared for the realities of aged care work, but she thinks you should reconsider

Yasmine* had seen carers help her grandparents stay happy and at home, and has a great relationship with them. As her Granddad’s health deteriorated she knew a community carer career was a something she wanted to pursue.

If you're scared or hesitant about employing young people then there are things you can be looking out for, that make finding your Yasmine easier.

One characteristics that is shown to help prepare young people for a caring career is a history of strong intergenerational relationships (Haapla, Tervo & Biggs, 2015). Individuals who have connections with elders (grandparents, older family friends) are likely to be able to see similarities with your clients, communicate better with older people, and understand the quirks of older age (e.g. pain, demotivation, and signs of stroke/dementia).

Yasmine's employer is definitely had to shatter a few myths around young workers, especially as this Gen Y's motivation and determination simply blew them away.

"Yasmine came on a Saturday morning and went out with out Senior Support Worker, and she said, "Yep, that's what I want to doing." Her Mom and I talked about getting her a formal qualification and the rest is history!
- Cathy*, Yasmine's supervisor and coordinator of Home Care Packages

Yasmine and Cathy would love to see more young people in caring careers. They talked about one barriers being that existing staff are not used to having younger people working with them. The stereotype of 'youth' has to be broken and the benefits of employing someone younger is definitely be noticed.

"We love it ... You wouldn't know that our clients would be open to it, but as we invited younger people here the clients just love hanging around them [younger people] ... and the younger staff don't just wait to be told what to do, they actually think and they give suggestions and ideas and feedback ..."
- Helen*, Day Centre Coordinator

Yasmine is still on her probationary license so she been splitting her time between the Day Centre and client’s homes.  She knows this is a career path that can take her where ever she needs to go and right now, her heart lies with her clients and her employer.

Do you have a Gen Y superstar in your midst? Get in touch as we would love to hear about it!

*All names and identifying information have been changed at the request of this large organisation. The Acorn Network wishes to thank Yasmine's supervisors for reaching out to celebrate this young care champion.

REFERENCES ('cos we know you love extra reading material!)

Bahrampour, T. (2015, October). Self-absorbed millennials? Not the ones who are care-givers to their elders. Washington Post. Retrieved March 2016 from,

Haapla, I., Tervo, L., & Biggs, S. (2015). Using generational intelligence to examine community care work between younger and older adults. Journal of Social Work Practice, 29(4), pp457-473.  DOI: 10.1080/02650533.2014.950211