My first week in aged care – a personal story |DP Training

1 Jul 2018 3:32 PMJen Fitzgerald
My first week in aged care – a personal story |DP Training

A week in aged care can seem like a year. It was a head spin, energy draining but exciting all at the same time!!


After 2.5 years off the floor, I went back to work as a care worker. What a trip!

My first 2 weeks consisted of 3 days of induction then 7 shifts with 2 days off. I worked in every unit of the facility.

[insert swear word here] lol


Shift 1  - After the first shift I was doing ok. I decided not to try and take it all in. Not to try too hard. Just follow my buddy and do as I’m told. That worked well. I also took lots of notes.

Shift 2  - I had asked about working in the dementia unit and was given a shift there and a great buddy. Lots of encouragement from my buddy so I was on a high.

Shift 3 – thrown into a float shift. Then on my own in a new unit just barely winging it. Survived…. just.

Shift 4 – the largest unit with the highest care needs. No warning of this, short staffed and no buddy to follow after. I had a fantastic co-worker who gave me good instructions but mostly the residents were my teachers. Some were not happy that I was new but I let them grumble and got on with the job. Constant buzzers all shift, long distances to walk. Lots of food trays in the rooms so lots of clearing up. Absolutely exhausted physically and mentally by the end of it.

Shift 5 and 6 -I’m a bit more comfortable by now. Now in serious medication assistance training and have a deadline of shift 7 to be assessed and to pass. Anxiety levels are rising rapidly. Decide to have a foot massage at the end of the week and plan a cruisy weekend.

Shift 7 Finally made it! Exhilaration soon disappeared as I was told I could have two shifts next week, on my own, in the dementia unit. I accepted them, all peachy keen, but deep down I was anxious. However, I survived this final shift, passed meds assessment and got a rundown on the general flow of the unit ready to go solo on Monday.


So lessons learnt from week 1:

  • Every day you are new is sink or swim.
  • No one is going to hold your hand but you will have support
  • Get on with everybody
  • Do not say too much about yourself – keep opinions to yourself
  • Look and learn
  • Don’t try too hard
  • Don’t try and take it all in – staff said it took them months to feel comfortable
  • Ensure you plan down-time – read these self - care blogs 
    Zen style nursing  Self-care in nursing

Image 1 & 2 CC0 Creative Commons  Image 3 & 4 Wikimedia commons