If you have been seeking a qualification in disability support, aged care or community care, then you could be forgiven for wondering why many of the courses out there are apparently being discontinued. The answer, and I have this on good authority, is because the Certificate III in Aged Care, Certificate III in Disability and the Certificate III in Home and Community Care are all being superseded by Certificate III in Individual Support.
So why the change? Well, according to the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (2014) the intent is to offer flexibility and allow make the choices that best meet their job role, whilst maintaining the integrity of training that ensures quality graduates. The review has also updated the content areas to make the course more relevant to the current skilling requirements of employers.
The course is structured around a set of core competencies that underpin all three forms of care giving and course providers have the option of choosing to offer elective units relevant to one, two or all three vocations. Because each institution has some flexibility around what electives to offer, IHNA undertook its own industry consultation and developed its course based on feedback.
Rather cleverly, IHNA has structured the course so as to allow students to qualify for a combination of two types of carer roles by undertaking one course. At present, the course being offered qualifies students to work in both aged care and disability support roles. Additional offerings are being planned that will allow students to combine one or other of these with home care. Thus graduates of the course will be able to access not one but two high demand areas of employment and will then have the option of going on to undertake a higher level qualification in either area, with exemptions for common units.
Pathway Opportunities – Speciaise in Disability or Aged Care
As shown in the following diagram, the current offering already opens up two very rewarding study and career progression pathways. Possible subsequent study opportunities include progression to a Diploma of Nursing, Advanced Diploma of Nursing or even and Bachelor’s degree through a partner university. Students can also upgrade to a Certificate IV in Disability or aged care. Those who go on to become nurses will have strong background experience in either disability or aged care settings and can go on, as nurses, to specialise in these settings or take what they have learned to new contexts of nursing.
The Placement Component
Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (2014) praised the inclusion of 120 practical placement hours in relevant work settings. This was identified as a severe deficiency in the old Certificate III in Disability and Certificate III in Aged Care courses. Because they lacked a placement component it was very difficult to argue that they adequately prepared graduates for the gritty, real life experience of working with clients and addressing their care needs, especially in home care settings, where carers are often expected to work autonomously, with little supervision. Thankfully, the 120 hour practical work placement has now been implemented. Students will receive the close supervision and feedback they need and have their practical skills evaluated during the course, thus leading to graduates who are far better prepared to undertake these challenging but highly rewarding care giving roles.