WHIDDON Beaudesert Star celebrated Aged Care Employee Day last week to recognise and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the aged care industry across Australia.
The day was marked in Beaudesert with a garden party held in the central courtyard of the facility, where staff members were served food and drinks by grateful members of the community and relatives of Whiddon Star's residents.
Staff was also able to enjoy live music performed by Jess Mott and read personal messages of thanks on display all along the footpath.
This year, Whiddon announced it would also lead the charge in inspiring the next generation of aged care employees by boosting critical awareness of careers in aged care.
They cited research suggesting that the majority of the emerging workforce (62 per cent) would be unlikely to consider a career in aged care.
Whiddon said aged care providers faced a challenge when it came to strengthening the future of aged care, but the findings came as Whiddon introduced a relationship-based mentoring program to inspire potential future employees on Aged Care Employee Day.
The survey by YouGov Galaxy found that the understanding of opportunities within the sector was low among Australian tertiary students, with the majority viewing aged care employment as just a job rather than a career and a third not seeing a clear career path in the industry.
A spokeswoman for Whiddon said keeping up with and supporting Australia's increasing older population, improving the volume and quality of aged care employees entering the sector would be more critical than ever.
"Despite staffing needs predicted to grow to almost one million by 2050, two industry projections indicate that the workforce is in fact expected to experience an outflow of employees leaving the industry," she said.
"This is a key driver for Whiddon to take action to help change perceptions of careers in aged care and attract more young people to the industry.
"Research shows that perceptions can be improved through student exposure to mentorship from aged care nurses, and learning about the appealing, satisfying aspects of working with older people.
"As such, Whiddon is piloting a tertiary student mentoring program in regional NSW and Queensland under its Future Care banner of career development initiatives.
The spokeswoman said the program connected tertiary health and care services students with senior registered nurses and other non-clinical mentors at Whiddon to gain personal insight about their experiences and career trajectory.
Whiddon chief executive Chris Mamarelis said to positively shape and strengthen the sector employers would need to find innovative ways to overcome barriers of perception and low awareness among younger people, as the need for new talent increases.
"As our older population continues to grow, we need to proactively inspire the stars of the future, especially in regional and rural areas," he said.
"Aged care is one of the most fulfilling and stimulating industries a person can be part of, but the research indicates we need to increase awareness about the opportunities that exist and the more fulfilling aspects of a career in aged care.
"By educating young people now on the dynamic and rewarding range of roles and aged care pathways, we can strengthen this vital industry for decades to come.
"By focusing on the future of aged care this Aged Care Employee Day, we're also recognising and celebrating the inspiring leadership that the best individuals in our industry provide every day to the teams around them.
"This can be very powerful in motivating the brightest stars of the future to choose and remain part of making a difference to lives of older Australians."
Whiddon Beaudesert Star care services director Deborah Morrison said Aged Care Employee Day was an important day to pay tribute to the valuable work of aged care employees.
"We have been planning an exciting celebration for our entire team to say a huge thanks to the incredible people here at Whiddon Beaudesert Star who often put others' needs before their own," she said.
"Their devotion and passion to caring for older people and making a meaningful difference each and every day in our communities is what sets them apart."