Griffith has not escaped the country’s “aged care crisis”, according to registered nurse Teresa Walton.
But there is a solution.
Nurse Walton urged residents across the region to consider taking on what she described as a “caring” and “wonderful” career.
It comes amid a national demographic shift, with the number of residents older than 65 years projected to double to 8.8 million across 40 years, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Nurse Walton – a Griffith TAFE NSW teacher – said there was more demand for assisted carers than there was staff across town.
“Aged care places are always looking for qualified staff,” Nurse Walton said.
“Griffith is the same as everywhere else.”
This assessment follows a nationwide reveal about 360,000 of residents were employed across the aged care sector, but before 2050 that number would need to increase to seven figures.
It is a trend Nurse Walton said she had witnessed across her 40-year career as a registered nurse.
A Senate inquiry last year labelled the ratio of staff to residents at some of the country’s facilities as too low, placing the quality of care at risk.
It is the reason behind the Commonwealth’s multi-million dollar cash injection into the industry, announced as part of the 2018-19 budget.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the boost would support elderly residents into their twilight years.
In the meantime, Nurse Walton said the shortage of workers meant a certificate in the sector almost guaranteed employment, but she said a stigma about the sector was contributed to a lack of interest in an aged care career.
“You can think: ‘they’re old people, they’re boring and smelly; they’re this or that or whatever,” she said.
“But I would encourage people to think outside the square.”
Nurse Walton said the job was about being nice, kind and gentle and helping older people through all facets of life.
“It’s a privilege to care for people,” she said. “That’s all it is.”
One of the region’s Just Better Care directors Rebecca Cox echoed the sentiment.
Ms Cox told Fairfax Media last month some residents could think nursing homes seemed depressing.
But she said the job was not “about seeing people live out their last days, but making their end of days special”.
“Go in and do something special to make their day special,” Ms Cox said.
“Give them something to look forward to.
“We’re all in the same boat.”