Why our aged care students love their trainer Lauren Barnett.

 

Do you remember the name of your favourite teacher at high school? You know, that teacher who was passionate about what they taught, went above and beyond to help you be your best, listened to your struggles, and celebrated your achievements. Of course you do, that’s because they had such a positive impact on your education and future success. Well, this is exactly the type of people we employ to teach you, because we think all our students should be inspired by learning. And our aged care trainer Lauren Barnett is a teacher who’s hard to forget because she’s brilliant (not that we’re biased or anything). We caught up with her to find out why her students love her.

“I’ve never looked forward to studying so much because I get more support from Lauren than I ever did from teachers at high school. She is a very inspiring person and teacher.” Adeline, student. 

“Lauren is great, she has my back 100 per cent and I know that if I’ve got a problem I can go to her and she’ll help me work through it.” Pauline, student.

 

Lauren, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do? 

I’ve worked in aged care for nine and a half years now. I’ve also been working as a trainer and assessor in the sector for the last three and half years, seven months of which have been teaching the aged and home care, and leisure and health courses here at Skills Training.

What motivated you to get into aged care?

I used to work as a diesel mechanic but left because the hours weren’t flexible enough to let me work and look after my little boy. When I was looking at other careers my mum and sister suggested that I should go into aged care because they worked in the sector and loved it. That was nearly a decade ago and I haven’t looked back since. Physically and emotionally it’s the toughest job I’ve done, much harder than hauling machines around all day, but it’s the most rewarding one too.

What does a typical aged care student look like?

They come from many walks of life so there isn’t really a ‘type’.  Most of my students have come from other sectors before they get into aged care. I’ve taught former butchers, forklift drivers, administrators and housekeepers, and while they’re all different, they share a similar passion for caring and making a positive impact on people’s quality of life.

What sets Skills Training’s aged care training apart from other providers?

I’ve worked at six registered training organisations [RTOs] in my career and I can honestly say that Skills Training Australia is the best. The management here really supports me in my role and this in turn allows me to give my students great support and mentoring. 

Unlike many other RTOs, we find placements for our students, give them an official uniform, and go above and beyond to give them great course materials and tuition. Also, I think my passion for the care sector, and the fact that I’m always here for my students, means they get a teaching experience they just won’t get elsewhere.

Finally, I’m always up to speed with the latest technologies, policies and procedures in the industry because I must continually upskill to be able to work here. This means students can be confident I’m at the top of my game and they’re getting taught by the best.

Aged care can be challenging, how do you prepare students to be able to deal with the tough parts of the job?

I teach them everything they need to know to be successful in the sector, however, the comfort of the classroom is quite different from the reality of the job. So, I’m honest about what it’s really like and the challenges they’re likely to face so they’re not shocked when they do their placement. 

What can students expect from a placement?

That we’ll do our best to organise somewhere that’s close to their home. In instances where what we’ve organised is too far or they’re not happy with it, then they can organise their own. In most cases, our students are happy with where they go because we place them in facilities we believe to be the best so they have great experiences. It’s worth saying that every single student I’ve taught has got a job through placement. 

What should students do if they want a successful placement?

They need to be reliable, well-organised, enthusiastic and mustn’t forget to say thank-you. I always tell my students that a thank-you goes a long way because it will often help soften difficult staff and make them easier to work with. Students should also ask lots of questions, especially if they don’t understand something. And if they’re really stuck about how to deal with something, they can always call me and I’ll either help them figure it out or will go into their placement facility to see them. Most students really enjoy their placements and in the rare instances where things don’t work out so well, I remind them that they only have to do 160 hours and can find somewhere else after. 

If there was only one piece of advice you’d give to a prospective aged care student, what would it be?

To love what you do. Aged care is really hard work so you have to genuinely want to make a difference to people’s lives. This is not a 9 to 5 type of job, it’s a calling and your heart has to be 100 per cent in it.

What is the most rewarding part about your job and working in aged care?

Patients and their families place a lot of trust in me, and knowing I’m helping them or their loved ones live their best life is an honour. Sure, it’s super hard at times but you’re dealing with real people and real emotions, and that’s incredibly rewarding. I also work best in a team environment so aged care suits me down to the ground. I think everyone I work with and teach is terrific — they’re a bit like family and I love that.

If you think you’ve got the empathy, stamina and resilience to work in aged care then get in touch here to see how you could learn from the best and get the qualification you need for the job.