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BaptistCare and TAFE NSW help Braidwood great-grandmother change careers at 74

At an age when many of her friends are slowing down, 74-year-old Braidwood great-grandmother Leonora Brown is ramping up, completing two TAFE NSW qualifications and starting a new job – in aged care.

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Thursday 1 July

At an age when many of her friends are slowing down, 74-year-old Braidwood great-grandmother Leonora Brown is ramping up, completing two TAFE NSW qualifications and starting a new job – in aged care.

Leonora Brown has had a rich and varied career, but a yearning to re-enter the workforce in a “caring profession” led her to complete a Certificate II and III in Community Services at TAFE NSW Goulburn.

Before even completing her qualifications, she secured work as a home and community carer with BaptistCare NSW & ACT, and some of her clients are a similar age to her.

After stints in the horticulture and textiles industry, Mrs Brown dipped out of the workforce for more than a decade to care for her ailing mother.

“After she passed away, I realistically needed to find work and I knew there were so many jobs in aged care,” Mrs Brown said.

“It really does feel good to give part of yourself and it’s rewarding to support older people to remain healthy and productive in their own home.

“Some people are surprised that I’m starting a new job at this age but most think it’s pretty fantastic.”

The aged care industry is currently awash with jobs and is expected to enjoy strong employment growth in the coming decades. According to a Productivity Commission report into Caring for Older Australians, the country's ageing population means more than 3.5 million Australians will use aged care services by 2050, meaning one million extra aged care workers will be needed.

Mrs Brown said despite her TAFE NSW face-to-face studies being interrupted by COVID-19, she was able to get the practical skills and real-world experience she needed.

“The online component was easier to master than I thought and my teacher was just fantastic – very patient and able to get the best out of people,” Mrs Brown said.

Mrs Brown said she planned to work in the industry for about the next five years, taking her up to almost the age of 80.

TAFE NSW Goulburn Community Services teacher Virginia Fitzclarence said Mrs Brown was a shining example of the employment opportunities available in aged care.

“Leonora has the empathy, energy and compassion to be a wonderful aged carer and is able to relate to her clients in a different way to younger aged care workers,” Ms Fitzclarence said.

“You really are making a difference in a person’s life and helping older people retain dignity as they age. And so many of our TAFE NSW graduates walk straight into jobs. An aged care certificate from TAFE NSW is the closest thing you can get to guaranteed employment.”

To find out more about studying aged care at TAFE NSW, call 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au

To read this story in the Goulburn Post, please click here.