From our frontline staff to those in our business teams, and those in hospitality, we all have advice for those about to enter an age services career.
The profession is one we often ‘fall’ into and end up loving – because it’s a career of purpose and impact. One of the most rewarding parts of our work, is being able to share what we have learned to help others.
Jamie Langdon is a Communications Manager at Benevolent Living. She moved into aged care from the cosmetics industry because she wanted to create meaningful change in the lives of Australia’s seniors. She’s pulled together 10 things she wished she’d known about aged care before entering the industry. We hope you enjoy them.
1. You will learn
First things, first. You will learn and keep learning. This could not be more relevant during a global pandemic. If you told me a year ago that I would be sitting in on meetings with an Infection Control Specialist discussing how to prevent an outbreak of a highly contagious disease, I would have thought you were joking. 2020 is proving anything but! Although, through all the ups and downs, 2020 has still taught me so much. Age services continues to be an exciting industry. My team has continued to transform, innovate, and reinvent how we deliver care and services, all with a media spotlight on us (thanks to both COVID-19 and a Royal Commission) and yet we continue turning up to work every day to make our residents’ lives better. This period has broadened my horizons, encouraged self-development and helped me to identify new opportunities for my organisation and myself. No one ever wishes for a global pandemic, I know I didn’t, but we learn to make the best of every situation and working in age services will teach you that.
2. You will be part of a community
One quote that has always stuck with me through moving cities, leaving friends, family, and colleagues is that ‘the people always make the place’ and this could not be truer. Seniors Living communities are bustling hubs of connection, activity and most of all creativity. From intergenerational activities, to volunteers running bingo, personal carers sitting with residents going through their photo albums or the CEO sharing coffee and cake with a family and their loved one; there is always something happening, something to be involved in and something to give you purpose. Although we are adjusting to our COVID-19 reality, not one person is doing that alone. We are all part of the same community working towards the same thing – the health and wellbeing of all who live, visit and work with us.
3. You will find a new family
In this industry you will acquire 10 new work ‘mums’ and 100 new ‘grandmas’. You will find connections and foster relationships with people you would not have ordinarily met outside of work. My ‘work bestie’ is a 62 year-old grandmother-of-three. I recently introduced her to the world of Instagram. We now tag each other in events or activities – mostly centred around food – and posts about homewares or baked goods. Remember, your new ‘work family’ will be there for you when you need help, advice when you need direction, or an ear when you just someone to bounce an idea off. These people will help shape you personally and professionally.
4. Inspiration will become your motivation
Your surroundings will inspire you to be better, and to do better. Some of your residents will be from little means and potentially have diseases or illnesses out of their control. But you will see them approach every day with a smile and undeniable optimistic attitude. This will inspire you to be more grateful, less self-involved, and most importantly show you that everyone is on their own journey, but it is how you let that adventure affect you that will ultimately define you.
5. Your future will be shaped by their past
You will receive advice from all generations. They will probably ask you about your love life – they are genuinely interested and want to know you are happy! Maybe they even want to live vicariously through you. Just remember that whatever you are facing, they’ve probably gone through it themselves.
6. You will be seen and recognised
Your achievements will be recognised and celebrated – by your colleagues, your clients and their families. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have made a difference in someone’s day and that they appreciate the little or big things you do.
7. You will find more than ‘just a job’
This is a career that will give you more than just a series of tasks. It will give you purpose, strength and build personal resilience. It isn’t for everyone, but those who have found their path in the age services industry will be some of the hardest working, kind-hearted and dedicated people you’ll ever meet. If you ask me, those are the types of people you want on your team.
8. You will make meaningful change
Your opportunities are endless in this industry. There are people who are pushing the boundaries, creating real and meaningful change. There are people paving the way for young leaders to step up and take charge. Take every opportunity you get offered and find those people who are passionate about the same things you are. That’s where you will make the most difference and build a network that will help you grow and thrive!
9. You will grow personally and professionally
This industry will challenge you, inspire you, change you, and most of all introduce you to people from all walks of life and all ages. You will have difficult conversations with someone who may be approaching their final days, you may comfort a family member after the loss of a loved one. You will also be the reason someone smiled that day, the reason someone got out of bed and came to the dining room, or the reason someone feels special and important.
10. You will change lives
Most importantly, you will change lives. You will be the reason someone smiles, you will be someone to confide in, you will be a companion, and you will make an everlasting difference in people’s lives.
If you are thinking about a career change, or have just joined this industry, then I assure you it will be rewarding, challenging and most importantly help you grow both personally and professionally. Don’t forget to connect with your Next Gen tribe online to see what other amazing things our colleagues are doing!
Jamie Langdon is the Communications Manager at Benevolent Living and a LASA Next Gen Ambassador