Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Perspectives from practice: complexities of personal care workers’ education, regulation and practice

Julie-Anne Martyn A D , Sally Zanella B and Adele Wilkinson C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A University of the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast Campus, Old Maryborough Rd, Hervey Bay, Qld 4655, Australia.

B Bolton Clarke, 99 Doolong Road, Pialba, Qld 4655, Australia. Email:

C Bolton Clarke, 59 Hanbury Street, North Bundaberg, Qld 4670, Australia. Email:

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Health Review -
Submitted: 13 April 2017  Accepted: 28 September 2017   Published online: 14 November 2017


Personal care workers (PCWs) make up the bulk of the workforce in residential and community care services. The knowledge and skill set needed for safe and effective practice in care settings is extensive. A diverse range of registered training organisations (RTOs) offering Certificate III and IV in Individual Support (aging, home and community) are tasked with producing job-ready PCWs. However, the curricula of these programs vary. Additionally, a national code of conduct for healthcare workers became effective in October 2015 as a governance framework for PCWs. The language of the code statements is ambiguous making it unclear how this framework should be translated by RTOs and applied in the preservice practice preparation of PCWs. Employers of PCWs need to feel confident that the content of the preservice education of PCWs satisfactorily prepares them for the diverse contexts of their practice. Likewise, the health professionals who supervise PCWs must be assured about the knowledge and skills of the PCW if they are to safely delegate care activities. The perspectives presented in this discussion make it clear that investigation into the nebulous nature of PCW education, regulation and practice is needed to identify the shortcomings and enable improved practice.

Additional keywords: aged care, carer, training, governance.


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