How to become an aged care nurse: Australian careers in nursing

If you’re looking at nursing, chances are that in your career, you will be working with elderly people. As Australia’s faces an increase in its aging population, now is a great time to chose to specialise in aged care nursing and take advantage of the current skills shortage. Focussing your nursing career on aged care provides a vital service to the community and helps the elderly maintain a healthy standard of living. There is a high demand for nurses with a background in gerontology who provide day-to-day physical and mental health care services for the elderly. If you are a naturally compassionate and resilient person, a career in aged care nursing may be ideal for you, helping you to develop an understanding of how aging affects the body and mental faculties of the patients in your care. 

  • Task Career in focus: What an aged care nurse does

    As an aged care nurse, the daily routines are similar to that of a regular nurse, where you will perform a range of tasks throughout your day, managing patient care schedules, dispensing medicines, recording your observations and administering treatments such as wound care and rehabilitative therapies. Most aged care facilities offer recreational activities, which you may be responsible for creating, organising and implementing, helping enrich the lives of your patients. As well as dealing with the elderly, you will also be required to communicate with family members about a patient’s condition and perform basic hygiene tasks such as changing bed sheets or bathing a patient.

    Tasks:

    • Assist with self-medication
    • Carry out resident care-programs
    • Help with vital daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing and toileting
    • Liaise with physical and mental health care professionals
    • Coordinate recreational activities
    • Monitor patient outcomes and record changes in condition
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as an aged care nurse

    As an aged care nurse, you become the advocate for your patient and work collaboratively with the doctors, rather than just being told what to do. You will need to be able to deal with a lot of varied and unique conditions, whilst maintaining a caring and respectful nature as you provide daily assistance to your patients. You will also deal with mental as well as physical conditions and should have a good understanding of the nutritional needs of the elderly as well being able to identify and manage symptoms of the physical and mental conditions that may onset later in life. Like other nursing careers, being an aged care nurse is a physical, hands-on job that may require you to take on long shifts and spend time on your feet.

     

    Skills/attributes
    • Observant and meticulous in record keeping
    • Respectful, patient and compassionate
    • Organised and careful with records
    • Communicates well with all people
    • Sensitive to different cultural beliefs
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within nursing

    There are many pathways that aged care nursing can lead you, for example you may choose to focus on mental health or rehabilitation. Both enrolled nurses and registered nurses work in the aged care sector. 

    Occupational Therapy Nursing

    Similar to physical therapy, an occupational therapy nurse helps the elderly stay active and mobile by helping them improve movement and strength. Occupational therapists design exercise and stretching programs to maintain muscle and joint health in their patients.

    Mental Health Nurse

    As well as having a good knowledge on mental health, an aged care mental health nurse must specialise in the conditions that afflict older patients, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or senile depression. This role often means that you will closely liaise with family members or carers to ensure that care regimes are being upheld.

    Oncology Nurse

    Oncology nurses have a very important role of helping older patients deal with or recover from cancer. They help to administer cancer treatments and educate both the patient and their family about the illness.

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming an aged care nurse

    Aged care nursing is open to both enrolled nurses (ENs) and registered nurses (RNs). During your studies, you may choose to focus your studies on the aged care sector when you begin or complete a specialised course of study on gerontology later in your career.

    Starting Out

    Find vocational nursing courses that will allow you to work as an EN in the aged care sector. 

    Building Skills

    Gain an understanding of aged care nursing and push your career further. 

    Developing Your Resume

    Add a qualification in gerontology to your professional skillset. 

    Industry Recognition

    If you are a nurse in Australia, you will need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board after you graduate from your studies. 

    Entering the Workforce

    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your nursing career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for aged care nursing jobs.

    Job prospects in nursing: Working life as an aged care nurse

    The demand for qualified and energetic nurses in the aged care sector is already very high and is set to grow over time with our aging Australian population. Strong growth is expected in the next five years with job opportunities remaining high.

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