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Picture: TAFE NSW teacher dons an aged care mask as part of a simulated learning exercise

A real-life aged care simulation offered at TAFE NSW is equipping students with practical skills to tackle an industry crying out for qualified workers.

The innovative masked simulation adopted from CQ University research, involves teachers donning silicone props including a face, hand and torso mask, becoming the persona of an elderly aged care resident so students can apply practical skills to complement their theory and work experience in their TAFE NSW community services course.

With the number of Australians aged 65 and over predicted to double in the next 40 years, there is a critical demand for skilled community services and aged care workers. The demand for specialised skills has also been heightened by the Aged Care Royal Commission, which raised the need to improve standards in the industry. 

TAFE NSW Community Services teacher, Renee Wallace, said the simulation allows students to have real interaction with a resident who can move, speak and interact with them, rather than working on a mannequin.

“Key to the simulation is that each mask has a persona attached to it with a history and prior medical illnesses that students need to work with to determine the best form of care for their aged care resident,” Ms Wallace said.

“We’re noticing that students are not only learning the physical, hands-on skills needed to work with the elderly, but they are also developing soft skills like empathy and building relationships with their aged care resident, which has had positive impacts on their performance in the course.”

Ms Wallace said the findings from the Aged Care Royal Commission, which will be passed down this month, found that some aged care workers were conducting unsafe, neglectful practices that compromised quality, which is what makes the simulation crucial to embed in training.  

“It’s not enough for students to study a course and pass a test, which is why we embed hands-on, practical training based on real-life scenarios that students would come across in the workplace,” Ms Wallace said.

The masked simulation is offered at three TAFE NSW locations in Western Sydney including the new clinical simulation room at TAFE NSW Wetherill Park, which has been purpose built to replicate an aged care facility and home care environment. Students from courses including Certificate III in Individual Support (Aging and Community), Certificate IV in Aging Support as well as Nursing and Health also have access to the training as part of their studies. 

The TAFE NSW simulated learning experience is providing a pipeline of qualified workers to address the skills gaps identified in the Aged Care Royal Commission and during COVID-19 including hygiene and infection control, which are covered in the course.

To enrol in an aged care course at TAFE NSW, contact or call 131 601.

Media Contact: Jessica Cortis, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, 0456 170 211