Irene Morello was a high school Science teacher in California when she first encountered the aged care industry. Learning that an aged care home for the disadvantaged needed extra staff, Irene committed to spending her weekends and holidays helping those less fortunate. She soon discovered strong similarities between her two roles. “As a teacher, I would counsel, inspire, motivate and challenge my students to be the best they can be”, she recalls. In an aged care setting, Irene identified that this approach would assist older people to better enjoy their everyday lives. This was an opportunity to truly make a difference.

Struck by the rewarding nature of aged care work, Irene was inspired to change her trajectory and pursue a full-time career supporting the elderly members of her community. After moving to Australia some years ago, she began her study journey so she could accumulate all the skills and knowledge she needed to launch her new career. With foundational qualifications under her belt, Irene joined Regis Home Care Mildura as a Home Support Worker and began caring for clients in the local community. Reflecting on the variety in her role, Irene says there is something new to learn every day. “We will assist clients with whatever they need to stay living at home, such as personal care, help around the house, preparing meals, and transport to appointments or the shops. But we will also take time to chat about life over tea and cookies because these are the important things that put a smile in your day”, she says.

With a passion for furthering her development, Irene is a testimonial to the career pathways accessible in the aged care industry. After a couple of years as a Home Support Worker, Irene decided to apply for the Regis’ Study Assistance Program so she could add to her qualifications. Now nearing the end of her Diploma of Community Services, Irene is looking forward to progressing into Case Management. In this role, she will be able to manage clients’ care plans and help them access the help they need to stay living at home for as long as possible.

With a range of aged care courses currently offered as part of the Australian Government’s Free Tafe program, it’s no wonder this is an attractive option for school leavers and career changers. While providing the basis for meaningful and fulfilling work, as well as on-the-job training, it also leads to an occupation with exceptionally high job security. Due to ongoing growth in the aged care sector, there is an ever-increasing demand for dedicated and skilled workers to support Australia’s elders.

Looking back on her experience to date, Irene doesn’t hesitate for a moment when asked for her advice to people considering a career in home and community care. In addition to being a diverse role that allows for work-life balance and flexibility with your schedule, it gives you the ability to challenge yourself in new ways and meet lovely people along the journey. “It’s a fantastic opportunity in an industry that is really blooming,” says Irene. “You share stories and build relationships with clients, they show their appreciation for you, and over time they can feel a bit like your own family. For people who love to help and enjoy interacting with others, I couldn’t think of a better job.”