In this Q&A, Inside Aging (IA) spoke with Paulo Pavani (pictured) who recently received the TAFE NSW Student of the Year award, and is currently studying for a Certificate IV in Aging Support, while working as a nursing assistant at Bupa Seaforth.
Originally from Brazil, Paulo Pavani, 32, was inspired to make a career change after witnessing the devastating impact dementia had on his grandmother in her later years.
IA: You went from Environmental Engineering studies to Aged Care and in particular a Certificate IV in Aging Support – why?
Paulo Pavani: First of all, it is important to say that I really identify with and fully support the environment sector, and I put all my heart into all the projects I participated in during the 5 years that I worked in the industry. I am proud of my initial professional career and of the companies I worked for and I am convinced that today, we are reinventing ourselves daily.
The first contact I had with the elderly care industry came when during this time I had family situations involving close relatives facing health changes in their lives due to the natural process of aging. From trying to reunite the family to take care of them until eventually considering a retirement home to allow them to have more comfort, security and quality of life. Without fully understanding, I was able to observe the impacts that these situations can have on everyone’s life.
I still remember the day I visited my grandmother in a nursing home for the first time and she could not recognize me due to an advanced stage of dementia combined with other conditions. I had no knowledge of it and how it impacted her life, but somehow this situation changed my life.
At the same time, I was going through a process of analyzing my personal and professional life aimed at understanding what my goals were and finding purpose in everything I did. The book “Power of Now” (Eckhart Tolle) came into my life through a recommendation from a friend and introduced me to ideas, thoughts and reflections on the way we lead our lives and actions.
To sum up, with these different aspects happening at the same time, I realized that I needed a change that would allow me to work closely with people and identify more with the positive impact of my actions. I conducted extensive research on the elderly care industry and noticed that despite the aging process identified as a challenge and a global reality, there was a huge gap between a skilled workforce and industry demand.
Having identified Australia and some European countries as references, I chose to come to Australia in 2019 to start my studies with the Certificate III in Individual Support and the Certificate IV in Aging, while initially finding the opportunity to start working as a volunteer in a nursing home. The trip has been a life changing experience so far and I intend to continuously develop myself both by studying (I am currently studying the Community Service Diploma at TAFE NSW) and by working in the elderly care and community service industry.
IA: It seems like a big career change to completely change industries. Does this mean that you are considering a long term career in the elderly care industry and what research have you done in the industry to support such a decision?
Paulo Pavani: Yes, I absolutely intend to pursue a long term career in the elderly care industry. I am currently considering nursing and dementia care as options for the next stage of my professional and personal development.
My research into the elderly care industry began in Brazil when I found myself in the situation described above. The first step was to understand the ideas and concepts of the sector initially in Brazil and later in the world, also trying to identify the different stages of development in terms of legislation, perspectives and financial / financing aspects.
In the second step, I conducted extensive quantitative and qualitative research on the job vacancies and professional requirements of the elderly care sector, taking into account different levels of work, both operational and strategic. This allowed me to identify this industry as a global reality that workers can choose to continuously develop upon if they are chosen.
The final step of my research was to identify educational institutions that would offer a wide range of course opportunities, especially for someone going through a great career development like me. Having identified that many countries (both South America and Europe) do not offer many quality study options, I chose Australia as my destination after narrowing it down to three country. From the start, TAFE NSW has been my first option, combining quality educational service, a good reputation nationally and globally, and a well-balanced strategic mix of practical and theoretical aspects.
IA: What have you noticed in the area of elderly care that interests you the most from a professional point of view?
Paulo Pavani: From a career perspective, I have noticed that the elderly care sector is undergoing major changes, including aiming to improve the quality of care for the rapidly growing elderly population. Having a purpose, global options in terms of work relocation and opportunities to achieve not only practical but also strategic and managerial positions have been the factors that made me choose Aged Care as my current and future professional career.
IA: Among your TAFE cohort, are you primarily aligned with how you envision a career in the industry or do others see the industry differently? for example: are others looking for short / medium / long term careers.
Paulo Pavani: From my recent experiences, I understand that in the elderly care industry there is a mix of professionals from different backgrounds, aiming for different life goals. Either become a nurse, pay for college education in computer science, have lost their previous job due to our current pandemic situation, or choose to be there because they identify with the industry and want to pursue extra steps in the process. sector – these are all realities that I have passed over the past 2 years.
I believe that, as in any other industry, it is possible to identify workers with short / medium / long term career commitments, the most important aspect being the quality of service and your levels of legal compliance. and ethics as you take action in the industry. We should not expect everyone working in the industry to aim to stay for a long term commitment, but we should expect everyone to provide high quality customer service, within policies. / procedures, legislation and ethical aspects.
Additionally, recognizing that the elderly care industry is changing rapidly and adapting to new models of service delivery, we also need to assess how people perceive this industry within the wider community. From television and social media advertisements to educational events and campaigns in elementary and secondary schools, there is a strategic opportunity to better educate the public about the importance of this sector – not only to maximize awareness, but to motivate enthusiasts of the cause to build their careers in this field.
IA: What sectors do the other members of your cohort come from?
I have met colleagues from the finance, IT, education and engineering industries, usually with experience in another country.
IA: Coming from studies in environmental engineering, what are the big differences between the cohorts?
Paulo Pavani: From my point of view, the biggest difference is dealing directly with human beings. In environmental engineering, there are strategic and theoretical aspects that set the tone for most of our actions while dealing at a strategic level as I did (management consulting).
Transition to Elder Care I have found myself with a great challenge balancing my managerial and academic skills with the social and behavioral ones that are demanded on a daily basis when working with clients in the elderly care industry.
In addition, cultural awareness, cultural competence and cultural safety, both with clients and colleagues, are also an essential skill that all workers must acquire and develop in order to achieve higher levels of collaboration. , respect and quality of service.
IA: How valuable was it to work in the sector (nursing assistant) in order to complete your studies?
Paulo Pavani: It has been essential to my professional and personal development and it is something that I pursued from the beginning when I started my volunteering journey in a retirement home, even before starting my studies.
Having been exposed to the work environment before starting the studies allowed me to understand if I could see myself in the industry in the longer term, and also provided me with some amazing and important experiences that I would understand later. from a theoretical point of view in my Classes.
Currently, the combination of theoretical studies and practical work experience allows me to continuously improve my work, maximizing the quality and efficiency of the service I provide to my clients.
IA: As an early career person, what advice would you give to those considering a career in the elderly care industry?
Paulo Pavani: I would advise anyone considering a career in the elderly care industry to start their journey with in-depth research into the industry and its characteristics. Understanding the reality, the challenges, the work and education opportunities, the financial aspects and maybe talking to people who have experience in the field is a good start.
As a second step, consider a volunteer experience of at least a few months to find yourself in the workplace and experience the various challenges presented by the industry. This can help you better understand your future decisions in the industry. There are people who may find that they prefer to be only volunteers and others may notice that a career is a real possibility.
As a third step, and given that the first two steps have actually been carried out, I would advise to consider short trainings (6-12 months) which allow the person to acquire the basic skills and knowledge to start working. in the area.
From there, a wide range of possibilities will be at your fingertips and it will be up to everyone to decide how, when and what the next step will be.