While struggling to think of something to blog about, I turned to some friends for topic ideas, in which I was advised to write about myself for a change, since I tend to write mostly about my children.
So I thought I would share how I am trained in, and used to work as an aged carer.
I knew back in Year 10 (when I was 15…for those not in Australia) that this was the career path I wanted to go down. Initially, I was going to use the Aged Care course as extra credit to get into nursing, but once working in the field, it’s where I wanted to stay. So at Career Day, my year went on an excursion to our local TAFE school (Technical And Further Education), so we could look at the education classes available, meet with lecturers, possibly sit in on a class… if you were lucky. While there, I found all I needed to get into the class was Year 10 English, and Year 10 Maths. It was not required for me to finish highschool, but any subjects I did in my final two years of highschool would be extra credit to get in to the classes. I was advised to do Human Biology, and anything else I was able to get my hands on which may benefit the course.
I failed Human Biology in Year 11. Not just failed…epically failed…so bad that my teacher advised me not to bother continuing it in Year 12. (The teacher and I had issues…which is a big part of the reason why I failed so badly) But look at me now, I could probably rattle off more information now about the digestive and respiratory system than that certain teacher!! (Though I would still suck at every other body system!)
But despite that, I still wanted to work in Aged Care. I did voluntary work with disabled citizens through contacts who knew my passion. I helped with disabled horse-riding (while not knowing a thing about horses) and disabled water aerobics (so much fun!!)
I did extremely well in the course. I think it helped that I was fresh out of highschool, and still in “study mode”, unlike many of my course class mates, who were coming back to the school scene after 20+ years.
During my course, it was compulsory for all of us to do work experience for two weeks. The facility I worked at gave me a permanent position straight away. I was stoked! It was the facility I had been wanting to work at ever since I made the career path decision. It was an aged care hostel that housed about 120 residents. About 20 were in locked wards (Dementia wards) and it was in those wards that I flourished.
Working with Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be extremely tolling, but I LOVED it! Some of the things some of the incoherent residents came out with could have me laughing till my sides hurt. Then there were also the “abusive” residents who could have fear settling into the pit of your stomach. I remember one woman had to be transferred to a different facility because she was constantly punching staff members (to the point of needing medical attention at times)
After about nine months of working as a carer, I was approached to casually fulfill the position as physiotherapy assistant (which eventually lead to a permanent position). This is where I found my true calling. I would work one-on-one with residents with their personal exercises set by a visiting physiotherapist, tape knees/ankles, give foot spas and hold an exercise class three times a week. I loved creating programs and was filled with pride when my efforts were shown in the residents improvement. My biggest success story was one woman, who, when she arrived at the facility, could barely walk a few metres assisted. In the space of a few months, I had improved her mobility to the point of being able to walk around the entire three-storey facility on her own!
Unfortunately, I found myself having to leave due to stress. At the age of 19 years, I was very close to a breakdown. Despite loving the actual work, I absolutely detested the politics behind it. I was trying to cram eight hours of work into three hours a day. I was frustrated that I couldn’t spend enough time with individual residents. After coming home in tears one day, my husband (then fiance) said he could get me a job working with him as a cleaner. So that day, I handed in my notice. Little did I know, I was a month pregnant with my eldest child, which may explain some of the emotional moodiness!
Looking back, I realise I probably wasnt quite mature enough for the position. I had issues with death at the time (completely the wrong field to be working in when you have that!) and struggled to maintain a certain amount of distance from the residents. Every death chewed me up inside. I needed more life experience to deal with the emotional toll of the position.
I miss working as a physio aid. Doing daily physio for my son’s cystic fibrosis has renewed my interest in the field again. One day, when my kids are older, I am going to get more training in physiotherapy and get back into it. Right now, the hours required of an aged care physiotherapy assistant aren’t suitable to my family life.
Who knows, maybe one day I will get training to be a physiotherapist for cystic fibrosis!!
So there you have it, a little information about me!