What to Look for When Hiring Aged Care Staff

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Aged care is a booming industry in Australia. The sector is currently in the midst of a large-scale recruitment drive to boost the supply of qualified staff to meet growing demand for services amongst the nation's greying baby boomers and senior citizens.

In fact, various reports estimate a further 50,000 new aged care jobs will be created in the 5 years between 2015-2020, which would make the sector one of the largest employers in the country. This is undoubtedly a good thing for those with the desire to make a living for themselves in what is traditionally a modestly paid and sometimes challenging career path.

Yet the increasing professionalisation of aged care (you now need a degree to secure a position), combined with partial deregulation of the sector by the federal government (which has led to the entry of cashed up private providers) and the favourable demographic trends underpinning it, has made this field more attractive over recent years.

However, when it comes to recruitment, there's a few important things to look for when hiring aged care staff for your facility. Here's a few of them below:


7 Key Attributes to Look for in a Candidate When Hiring Aged Care Staff


1. Is Your Candidate Qualified?

While aged care nursing was once a voluntary role carried out within the family home before becoming a government-dominated sector staffed by workers hired directly from the community, it's now a professional occupation requiring a tertiary-level qualification.

When hiring aged care staff it's therefore important to ensure they have the relevant qualifications, which is generally a Certificate II or III in Aged Care Nursing from a registered educational institution and at least 1 years work experience in the field.

As an aged care provider, it's also your responsibility to ensure staff, including those hired from staffing agencies are registered with AHPRA (Australia Health Practitioner Prudential Authority) – the official body for all healthcare workers in Australia. Other desirable qualifications to check for include certificates in First Aid and CPR.


2. Is Your Candidate Punctual?

Given aged care staff typically work in shifts within the context of providing, continuous 24 hour care, being on time for the beginning of their shift (also known as ‘shift changeover') is crucial to maintaining staff-to-resident ratios.

Ideally, prospective candidates should arrive 5-10 minutes early for their interview which will give you a good indication they can be trusted to be punctual if given the job. Of course, if a candidate is running late due to unforeseen circumstances but has given advance warning, apply your own discretion!


3. Is Your Candidate Patient?

This is very important and a key trait to look for when hiring aged care staff. Working with the elderly and disabled can be challenging and yes, frustrating too at times.

Possessing a great deal of patience is therefore crucial to providing good care and ensuring candidates have the potential to develop a strong bond with residents under their watch.

Whilst patience can be hard to discern from a single interview, it's something that will become more obvious in its presence (or lack thereof) during a trial period. If a candidate appears rushed when tending to residents and disinterested in what they have to say, that's a pretty clear sign aged care may not be the right fit for them.


4. Is Your Candidate Clean & Presentable?

This is an easy trait to gauge and another deal-breaker in a potential candidate who fails to meet this basic standard. With the elderly more susceptible to illness than the young, aged care facilities and nursing homes must be kept clean and free from infection at all times.

Things to look for include whether your candidate is neatly dressed? Does he/she have their hair neatly styled and kept out of their faces? Are their fingernails neatly trimmed and facial hair tidy? It may sound superficial but a well presented and friendly staff member is the best ambassador for your facility.


5. Is Your Candidate a Team Player?

Aged care nurses and carers work in teams, which is the only effective method for providing care to large numbers of residents with varying needs and personalities across a single facility.

Whilst it's easy to say you're a “team player” in an interview, this is a trait you as a hiring manager will need to observe in a candidate over their probationary period. The best aged care staff not only work well with others but also boost morale in challenging times.


6. Does Your Candidate Have the “Right Personality” for Aged Care?

Perhaps the most difficult trait to discern in a potential employee is whether or not they have the “right” personality to work successfully in an aged care facility.

It goes without saying it does take a special kind of person to fit this role. Someone who is not only caring, patient, a good listener, a good team player, clean and punctual amongst other positive attributes, but ideally someone who can bring together this whole package.

There's no set profile of what an ideal aged care nurse or carer looks like, how they behave or relate to others. Ultimately as a hiring manager this is something for you to decide by interviewing prospective candidates, observing them through a fair trial period, discussing their performance with your colleagues and making that final decision.


7. Does Your Candidate Have the Desire to “Try” a New Career?

Last but not least, it always pays to consider mature-aged workers as potential employees in your facility.

Given their life experience and the fact they likely have elderly parents themselves, people over the age of 50 make great aged care nurses and carers, with many middle aged Australians seeing this field as a nice change of pace from office-based environments.

Volunteering in aged care is another popular option for those looking to wind down their working commitments as they approach retirement, not to mention it's also a great way to be rewarded by giving back to society.

Be sure to keep this in mind when someone slightly older than your regular candidates comes knocking on the door!