Can aged care students make a difference to the Australian aged care system? Carol Guan, an aged care trainer at Kirana Colleges Australia (KCA) is demonstrating they can.

At KCA, Carol teaches the Certificate III Individual support and Certificate IV  Ageing Support. She has worked in the aged care industry for over 10 years, and works as a Diversional Therapist at Uniting Care. She recently created a Cultural Diversity program for aged care organisations to meet the new Australian Aged Care Standards. The standards are set to improve care for the aged in Australia, and have a focus on valuing identity, culture and diversity of the aged.

Carol wanted to humanise the new standards and create a program to transform the lives of those living in aged care. She set out to create a program specifically for dementia patients as 1 in 10 Australians over 65 years old have dementia, and more than half of the people in aged care are living with the disease. Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social life.

Carol implemented a cultural program at Uniting Lynvale Residential Aged Care. The program focused on helping residents connect to the country and culture they were born into. The program incorporated a feature country every month, with a room decorated with images from the selected country to stimulate memories and past experiences. This cultural experience stimulates residents’ brains as they look at the pictures and share their family memories and stories of places they have visited. “We’ve seen residents with dementia become more physically active as they are motivated to come and view the images. And it has inspired them to talk about their childhoods and speak in their native languages – it’s incredibly emotional for them,” said Carol.

At KCA we put theory into action to train our students, and following the success of her program at Uniting, Carol has been delivering training of this program to KCA students within an experiential classroom. The environment is set up specifically to teach students how to effectively meet the new standards in aged care to meet the growing needs of those with dementia.

At KCA we don’t just teach students in the classroom, and work placement is also a key component of the aged care course. It’s also a great way for students to secure paid work and more than half of our students have got a permanent job from work placement. Many of our students have implemented the culture program with organisations during their work placement. Organisations have shared their feedback that KCA students have a great working knowledge of the new aged care standards. “We even had a nursing home request one of our students talk to their staff about the new regulations and programs they could put in place. I was thrilled they were so impressed by our students”, said Carol.

Carol is continuing to arm students with new skills and programs to get them ready to enter the aged care sector. “I love being a trainer at KCA and really believe that a student’s training in aged care can transform how they perform in the workforce,” said Carol.