CARING for the aged, says Jacqui Thomson, is a job unlike any other. It is a passion, it is a privilege.
“It’s just so rewarding,” Mrs Thomson said. “What other job do you continually get thanked, and told how much you’re loved?”
Mrs Thomson loves her job with Adelaide family business My Care Solution, working with that majority of older people who want to spend their final years in their own homes.
The number needing this kind of care will explode in coming years. There are now 503,000 85-year-olds in Australia , two per cent of the population , but, in 2058, that hit 1.5 million or 3.7 per cent.
Demand for aged-care workers will rise dramatically. But with too few qualified workers already, the industry fears there will not be enough people to do the work.
“You can’t do it just because you need a job,” Mrs Thomson, pictured , said. “You have to have it in you.
“Your heart has to be in it.”
As shocking cases of abuse in disability care and aged care have shown, it is a job tarnished by the wrong people.
But Mrs Thomson, 58, of Westbourne Park, speaks with passion. She recalls the joy of her visit to one elderly man with dementia who had forgotten he could play the piano – but not forgotten how to.
“The family said it would be really good to see if you can get him to have a tinker,” Mrs Thompson recalled. “So we started off with Chopsticks, and then I said, ‘what about Tea for Two?’. And I’d sing it, and he’d start singing and then he’d play it. Just amazing. And he said, ‘oh, that was so much fun, playing the piano’ – like it was a new thing.”
With pay of about $28 an hour, above the sector average, she said she was not in it for money. She only wanted 20 hours a week, so the job was flexible, provided autonomy, and was meaningful.
She might clean a little, help shower someone, take them to appointments, or provide companionship.
What advice does she have for those who do start work with the aged?
“Listen,” she said. “They’ve got so many amazing stories to share. They’ve been through a lot, they’ve been through wars, and Depression.
“And they’re so strong – maybe some people who don’t have a lot to do with them … just don’t understand what they’ve been through.”
Source: The Advertiser, 24 February 2021. Written by Roy Eccleston.