Retraining for a Career in Care

seniors in a learning environment
“Many over 50s who are eligible may have these courses subsidised by the government.”

We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, but have we ever considered what this may mean, and just how wrong it could be? Going back to school or following a new career path may seem like plans made by the young, however, more and more over 50s are returning to study in order to make a difference in the aged care industry.

Make a Positive Change

Seniors enjoying coffee in their care home

In fact, training to become a carer doesn’t just make a difference to those receiving care, but those who re-enter the education system and work their way into a new job market are also experiencing positive changes.

Kelwant Dillon, aged 56, made the change. She used to help her husband with his business, as well as care for her home and family. “I became a carer because I wanted a change in my work environment,” says Kelwant, “Where I would feel like I am actively giving back to my community through my work.”

“It is really satisfying and such a reward to see the happiness on the faces of residents. It makes the job worthwhile.” Kelwant’s family and friends were very supportive of her transition. “I had explained that helping people is what I am passionate about, and this was one of the quickest careers to be qualified for and start doing it.”

Senior being handed a cup

One of the most popular career options for those seeking to return to study is the Certificate III in Individual support, specifically in the ‘Home and Community’ stream”.

Debbie Goodeve, Training Manager of DP Training Australia explains that, “This certificate allows those who successfully complete it to obtain work caring for the elderly in their own homes. This may include shopping, household duties, personal care, social outings, medical and medication assistance, and even respite care.”

These programs take 5 weeks full time, plus additional vocational placement for hands-on experience. A part-time course can be completed in 26 weeks with 2 days of study per week. Kelwant studied a governmentfunded course to help people get back into the workforce. She successfully completed a Certificate III in aged care at Southport TAFE and is currently employed in her field.

Subsidised Courses

Debbie supports Kelwant’s experience, advising that many seniors who are eligible may have these courses subsidised by the government. The government also offers initiatives to employers who hire those over the age of 50, making 50 and 60-year-olds entering the market attractive to recruiters.

According to Debbie, “The biggest issue faced by mature students is their own personal health. As with any position, health and fitness are critical – especially when it comes to caring for others. There is also the difficulty of learning new technologies and entering a workplace environment that may be completely alien to what an individual may have been doing before.”

“Over 50s possess knowledge and skills that can be uniquely incorporated into the training of their potential new role”

Returning To Study

When returning to study, the technology and deadlines were the most daunting for Kelwant, but they did not hold her back. In fact, once these obstacles are overcome, most who begin their studies do not look back. Older students bring life experience that younger students simply do not have.

Kelwant says she had no difficulty returning to studies, “in fact, I really enjoyed the content that was taught. The retraining gave me the opportunity to apply myself to various sectors of aged care that I hadn’t experienced before.”

Debbie confirms, “The Over 50s possess knowledge and skills that can be uniquely incorporated into the training for their potential new role.” This can also help them when finding employment, as their previous experience may translate very well into their new career. Mature aged students have a very high success rate, both in terms of completing their course and in securing employment. Their own life experiences often assist with building a rapport with the elderly to which they will be providing care, and the age familiarity can be a comfort to those they work with, as well as to their families. The study keeps people busy, engaging the mind and hands and providing a purpose after retirement.

Make A Difference

Senior being handed a cup

Many who return to study are doing so because they want to make a difference, not because they have to return to the workforce. This makes the process enjoyable, pursuing knowledge and skill out of choice rather than necessity. The psychological and physical benefits are fantastic too. Studying helps keep the brain healthy, and the hands-on nature of being a carer ensures that the body is moving, producing endorphins, and keeping fit.

Embrace challenge and change. Learning a new skill that can be incorporated into your own life is invaluable and advancing your own knowledge and skillset can assist in making a real difference in the lives of others. You are never too old to learn a new skill, obtain a new qualification, or pursue a new career. You are not an “old dog” and your study is no “trick”. In fact, you may very well inspire others to fulfil more of their own potential and pursue their own aspirations.

As Kelwant says, “It is never too late to start a career in any field. Choose to start a career in an area that you are passionate about, and your horizon of opportunities will only widen”. So go on, get studying and make a difference.

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