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Work and life in residential aged care

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posted on 01.03.2017, 04:02 by Thorne, Margaret
As Australia’s population is ageing, there are immediate and future demands in providing care for the increasingly diverse requirements of elderly people. Caring for elderly people in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) is emotionally and physically demanding work and requires good skills. In order to meet these requirements, there will be an ongoing demand for knowledgeable and skilled Personal Care Workers (PCWs) from various backgrounds to work in RACFs to provide individual, comprehensive, and appropriate care to residents. PCWs provide the majority of personal care to residents and outnumber Registered Nurses (RNs) and Enrolled Nurses (ENs) in these facilities. This thesis explores the experiences of PCWs and residents in RACFs from diverse backgrounds. The aim of this research is to better understand how workers and residents manage their relationships in their workplace/home, so as to provide a platform for the further development of aged care education and training into the future. The research design is a multi-sited case study. It draws on narrative inquiry as methodology and is theoretically framed by the concept of communities of practice. Individual interviews were utilised to collect stories and then analysed to reveal motivations, backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, perceptions, and expectations of PCWs, residents and managers, which were then categorised into five major themes. I consider how these shape their relationships and interactions with each other while they are negotiating the challenges and cultural differences that arise in their complex living and working environments. This thesis is significant because of the paucity of research that investigates aged care, from the perspective of those who live and work in it. The research places in the foreground critical issues in the delivery of care to residents in increasingly culturally diverse settings. The object of its findings is to provide a platform for further discussion about the direction and priorities of aged care education, and in particular, the importance of providing ongoing professional development for PCWs that equips them for working and interacting with each other and their residents.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Jillian Brown

Additional supervisor 1

Anita Devos

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre


Degree Type



Faculty of Education