With the number of individuals diagnosed with dementia in aged care facilities on the rise, TAFE NSW is helping to meet the need for skilled workers through targeted training.
Up to 472,000 Australians are living with dementia, and more than half of people in residential aged care have dementia.
Through the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing), which is offered across the state, TAFE NSW is helping to bridge the skills gap by equipping individuals with skills they need to care for dementia patients.
56-year-old Berowra Heights local Mike Smith is one of many students making a difference to the lives of those living with dementia.
After three decades in the financial services sector, Mike decided to follow his passion for helping others and studied the Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV in Ageing Support at TAFE NSW St Leonards. He now works as a Community Care Worker at HammondCare, with plans to specialise in dementia care.
“When confronted with redundancy at my previous job in financial services, I thought now is the time to take the plunge and do something meaningful and make a difference in the community. Seeing my parents and people around me getting older, I knew I wanted to work in aged care and enhance the quality of life for seniors,” Mr Smith said.
“I’ve definitely found my calling. Each day I get to put my TAFE NSW training to use by supporting the elderly members of the community by decreasing their isolation, keeping them active, and lending an ear. They really look forward to seeing us and getting a simple thank you or smile each day is so rewarding.
“With dementia becoming more and more prevalent, I want to specialise in dementia care. I’m currently doing some short courses on dementia and plan to do a Diploma of Dementia Care through The Wicking Dementia Centre at the University of Tasmania.”
Head Teacher of Ageing and Disability Cathy Stern said TAFE NSW is playing a huge role in delivering a pipeline of specialised aged care workers, as the demand for skilled caregivers in dementia care continues to grow.
“Through the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing), we are empowering our graduates to provide a high standard of care and improve the quality of life for dementia patients in a range of settings,” Ms Stern said.
“Throughout the course, students gain the skills they need to support elderly people to maintain dignity and independence, and offer tailored care to individuals facing the challenges of dementia. Students learn how to improve clients’ social and emotional health and help them with personal care needs through a holistic approach.”
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