What is it about aged care?

Article originally featured on Aged Care Channel

Why don’t people want to actively work towards an aged care career? Almost, well basically everyone I talk to say they ‘fell into aged care’.

When I was studying for my occupational therapy degree, everyone wanted to work in hospitals, in paediatrics, or in rehabilitation. Me? I was torn between mental health and aged care. My university only offered geriatrics as an elective, but mental health was a core unit. At the time mental health seemed like a more legitimate career choice. After my mum got sick
(read about it here), I just couldn’t cope with the thought of working in the mental health system. It was so broken, and I couldn’t contribute to that system.

So I explored aged care. The more I explored the less young aged care professionals I found. Today young people talk about their mental health experiences,  how they became mental health professionals and the challenges of being in the industry. It’s all over the internet. But there was nothing like that for aged care. Every time I googled “young leaders” “aged care” back in 2013, there was no one promoting young leaders. (Except for this awesome leadership program Young Leaders on Boards - which I enrolled in AND LOVED!!).

I recently looked at Google to find out what was really out there … 
14,600 responses on Google 27 May 2016, “young leader*” “aged care"
86,400 on October 8th, 2015 for “young leader*” “mental health"

That is a HUGE difference.

Why does mental health have so much more information available on young leaders? We all have grandparents or know elders in our communities … how are we missing out on getting more people passionate about helping our older Australians … It can’t just because of the pay. Seriously, where are the articles that promote young people? Who is highlighting the pathways to awesome leadership and management positions? Why do amazing people care about aged care? How do they get the mentors that help guide them?

Young people are constantly challenged by what it means to be a leader. There is an attitude that you have to be older, and have superstar skills and experiences – in reality we know that anyone with passion can lead. The Young Leaders on Boards program allowed me to meet young people who were passionate about aged care, and who were ambitious. Why didn’t I know these people beforehand? What prevented us from finding each other?

My wish for aged care … to have people encouraged to enter the profession at entry levels of their career because aged care teaches us so much!  Stop saying that “aged care is something we fell into”. It is a career, which to some is a last choice but to others it is something that inspires them. Caring for our elders, and working with amazing passionate colleagues to deliver the best care aged care is awesome. It’s time we started to be more active is promoting just how awesome it can be! We want to build a sustainable and innovative industry for our grandparent, our parents, and eventually ourselves.

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