Aged care journeys at the heart of new careworker training resources

Aged care journeys at the heart of new careworker training resources

An article written by Dr. Katrina Erny-Albrecht

Along with seven in ten people in Australia over the age of 65 years [1], Peter and Mary have a history of cardiovascular disease. Keng is living with dementia and as his condition has progressed, he has reverted to using his first language of Cantonese in many conversations. Meanwhile, Betty is fortunate that unlike many older people suffering from mental illness she is now receiving specialist care, although her journey was far from easy. [2]

Peter, Mary, Betty, and Keng are at the heart of a new palliAGED resource developed for careworker training in collaboration with Gold Coast Primary Health Network (GCPHN) – Aged care journeys in palliative care. They all live in residential aged care (RAC), but their needs and journeys are as different as their personalities. Aged care journeys that have at times been difficult and even distressing. Knowing when and how you might help can make a world of difference and this knowledge is central to the relationship between older people and their care givers.

You can follow the care journeys of Peter, Mary, Betty, and Keng reflecting as you go on how you might have improved their experience of aged care. Selected palliAGED Practice Tip Sheets provide information that can help you in providing quality care. New For Educators resources can assist with team discussions.

The journeys highlighted through this new resource are based on common stories and experiences, and GCPHN have developed these in partnership with COTA Queensland, Palliative Care Queensland, and Beacon Strategies. This new alignment of resources to expand training options also demonstrates the important gains to be made through sector collaboration including enhanced value and extended application.

So, why was it necessary? Of the 322,000 direct care givers in aged care, seven in ten working in RAC are Careworkers (CWs) or personal care workers, this increases to almost nine in ten among providers of home care. [3] CWs are central to any discussion of aged care quality. With eight in ten resident exits from RAC in Australia being due to death [4], the need for knowledge in palliative care and care at the end of life is also beyond debate. However, the latest aged care survey shows us that while 58% of RAC and 35% of home care providers say that their CWs have skills in palliative care, opportunities for in-house training are lowest among CWs for palliative care. [3] Two in three CWs has a Certificate III or higher level of training, but palliative care has only very recently become a core subject for Certificate III. Organisations need to address these gaps in training to help CWs and older people alike, and this calls for flexible approaches that can be integrated into busy work schedules.

From a review of effective workforce training to support the long-term care of older adults, a list of elements common to successful approaches includes: [5]

  • In-practice learning with feedback and reflection on real-life interactions
  • Learning orientated towards practical steps to improve care and set meaningful goals
  • Content that is relevant to the learner’s role
  • Use of a variety of teaching methods underpinned by theoretical or knowledge-based content
  • Mentoring and opportunity to share learning through face-to-face interaction
  • Availability of emotional and wellbeing support (especially with role playing)
  • Ready access to written information and tools.

Training needs to be appropriate to CW level of experience and capacity. More than half of CWs in Australia are less than 40 years of age and depending on care setting up to one in three come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. [3] Therefore, training must consider literacy, language, cultural influences, and level of experience. It should also reflect the real needs of the older people in your care.

The journeys of Peter, Mary, Betty, and Keng are relevant and relatable. We look forward to hearing how you have combined them with additional resources including other palliAGED Tip Sheets, or the palliAGED Forms and Introductory modules to make your training for Careworkers the same.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Older Australians [Internet]. 2021 [updated 2021 Nov 30; cited 2023 May 23].
  2. palliAGED. Mental Illness - Synthesis [Internet]. 2022 [updated 2022 Oct 4; cited 2023 May 23].
  3. Department of Health and Aged Care. 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census Report. Canberra: Department of Health and Aged Care. 2021 Sep.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). People leaving aged care [Internet]. 2022 [updated 2022 Jul 28; cited 2023 May 23].
  5. Newbould L, Samsi K, Wilberforce M. Developing effective workforce training to support the long-term care of older adults: A review of reviews. Health Soc Care Community. 2022 Nov;30(6):2202-2217. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13897. Epub 2022 Jul 5.

Profile picture of Katrina Erny-Albrecht

Dr. Katrina Erny-Albrecht
Senior Research Fellow
CareSearch & palliAGED
Flinders University




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The views and opinions expressed in Palliative Perspectives are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.