Millennials and aged care: attracting younger people into the workforce

From playing keytar in an 80s cover band to managing a residential facility, James Flood is proof that aged care is a great field for Millennials. 

James, 26, shared his experience in a presentation at the 2018 International Dementia Conference. 

His unconventional career path has seen him go from part-time piano teacher to aged care facility manager in just a few years. 

“Aged care is an important part of supporting Australia’s older citizens when they need us. In my view, care services can never be replaced by robots – unlike many other areas of work,” James said. 

James believes there are three key reasons young people should consider working in aged care: purpose, growth and security. 

“Aged care is work with heart. It’s about being there for older people in times when they are vulnerable and has many rewards,” he said. 

“The sector necessarily will continue to grow and change, increasingly requiring people from a range of professional backgrounds. And getting a foot in the door with aged care can lead to unexpected and exciting career pathways.” 

Despite these benefits, aged care is facing a potential workforce crisis: HESTA is predicting a shortfall of 80,000 workers over the next five years. With this in mind, James believes employers could do more to attract and retain young staff. 

“We need to tell positive stories and convey a vision of care to society’s most vulnerable,” he said. 

“Employers should recruit outside the box and provide engaging entry-level opportunities. Engage young people personally, give lots of feedback and help them see the opportunities available to them.” 

James’ unique entry to aged care started after he completed an Arts degree with majors in music and sociology. “Like most people with an Arts degree, I had no clue what I was going to do. All I knew was I could write,” he said. 

The lightbulb moment came when HammondCare chief executive Stephen Judd spoke about the contribution liberal arts graduates can make in the workplace at a function James attended. 

“In his words, he wanted ‘people who could read and write well’. I bailed him up with my resume and landed a graduate position in the policy and planning team, helping with projects across the organisation.” 

James said he was immediately surprised by the “dynamism” of the industry, with skyrocket growth and new service models backed by a government with an aggressive change agenda. 

Providers continue to wrestle with the question of what constitutes quality care. To that end, aged care is increasingly drawing on people from a range of professional backgrounds – it’s not just for nurses.”

Last year James made an internal move from policy to front-line management of three pioneering cottages for people living with dementia. He said his career so far has been “immensely challenging and rewarding”. 

“I am part of a great team of care staff, nurses and allied health professionals, and it’s a pleasure to work with such passionate people to improve quality of life for the residents in our care. At the end of the day, nothing makes me happier than enriching residents’ quality of life – I particularly love jumping on the piano and having a singalong!” ​

Media inquiries: For more information or to request an interview, please contact Harrison Vesey on (02) 8280 8408.

1 ‘More concern over the future of Australia’a aged care workforce’, Talking Aged Care,