Most people spend at least ten to twelve years at school and some go on to study further at University or College for another few years. Admittedly a lot of this time is spent learning the basics that assist us through life: reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as the social skills of getting along with others. However, as we move on to the higher levels of education, we tend to focus more on what we eventually want to do in our life in the workforce. So why should learning and education stop once we have gained that often hard-won position? We should continue to remain open to learning about new ideas and methods in our industry – this is known as professional development.

Carrie doing some training

For those who work in the aged care industry in a hands on role, their entry usually commences with a certificate three in Aged Care or similar. Some people may gain employment without this, but often find they are required to undertake study to gain a qualification to retain their job.

In aged care facilities one of the audit requirements that organisations need to meet is demonstrating that staff are both competent and are continually up-skilled to better cater to the needs of their clients. Additionally, to maintain their registration, all nursing staff in Australia must demonstrate a minimum amount of training and professional development to keep their skills current. Best practice would demand that community-based organisations also follow this example and promote regular training amongst their staff, including coordinators.

In the past, remote coordinators have often been at a disadvantage to their urban peers. To begin with, many coordinators (myself included) came from a non-health background. This meant that unless you actively pursued partnerships and mentoring from health professions, did a lot of reading and research and attended the odd (usually 6 monthly) workshop, you probably didn’t fully understand the impact of disease and ageing on your clients. This makes it difficult to adequately meet their needs.

Consider how and what you might learn this year. It's easier these days with the Internet.

Consider how and what you might learn this year. It's easier these days with the Internet.

These days, there is the recognition that coordinators should have at least the basics of aged care knowledge (certificate 3 Aged Care or similar) and be encouraged to build on that. Networking with health professionals and other coordinators is now easier with better Internet connections and phone service. There are also aged care and disability specific website sites, such as Alzheimer's Australia, The Australian Ageing Agenda, Brain Injury Australia and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), as well as this site and our Facebook page. These are all great for gaining snippets of relevant and up to date information related to aged care. However, there is always a benefit to yourself and your clients in gaining formal training and qualifications in the aged care sector.

Formal training may be in the form of a certificate or diploma in aged care related areas or you may wish to gain qualifications in a broader area, such as staff or program management, perhaps a Diploma in Frontline Management. You may also choose a specialty area within the industry, such as a Degree or Masters in Gerontology or Nutrition. All these options are now open to people living and working in remote areas as long as you have a reasonable internet connection and the commitment to study.

Have a think about what sort of study you might undertake this year – a formal qualification, attendance at workshops or seminars, or perhaps just the commitment to subscribe to and read some industry related blogs on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

Now what are you going to do this year?

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