From kitchen hand to peak body Board member: A journey towards change

Last updated on 17 May 2024

Aged care leader Daniel Aitchison and one of his inspirations, his grandmother. [Supplied]

From a brief stint working in the kitchen to becoming a board member of a peak body in the industry, Daniel Aitchison has forged a successful aged care career. 

In the fast and overly competitive world we live in today, it’s hard to find many people who are passionate about looking after the older generation and giving their time to those who looked after us.

Is this innate personality trait becoming a rarity? If we take a hard look at the current staffing shortages in the industry, it sure feels like it is. For Daniel, his interest in aged care grew at home. 

“I was very close to my grandparents in my younger years and that time I spent with them is imprinted in my childhood memories,” he says.

“I just guess it was that inherent sort of thing inside you wanting to look after other people in some way shape or form.”

His journey into the aged care sector started at the young age of 18 when he was first offered a job in the kitchen of an aged care facility in Queensland. His interest in understanding the ins and outs of the care sector peaked at the time which led him to pursue a career in nursing. 

“I entered nursing school straight away and after the three-year course, I didn’t waste any time. As soon as I received my registration, I started working as a Registered Nurse (RN) the very next day in the same aged care facility.”

“I worked there as a nurse in the cardiac medical ward and in the emergency department on the organ transplant retrieval team for about two years,” Daniel adds.

He eventually made the switch from the hospital wards into aged care homes.

“For me, it was ultimately all about the people that we work with and the people that we look after and I found that it was very fulfilling to have that kind of environment where you’re surrounding yourself with different people and you’re building those people skills.”

Daniel has a long history of working in aged care and health services across Australia. He joined Palm Lake Care after having served in leadership roles for Anglicare Southern Queensland, TriCare and AnglicareSA.

In 2018, Daniel joined AnglicareSA in the role of Executive Manager, Aged Care Services, while in 2021 he was recruited to the role of Chief Executive for Clayton Church Homes – a provider of aged care services across South Australia.

Although Daniel has moved onward and upward in the caregiving industry, he still holds his nursing registration and has never forgotten his roots.

“It’s been a good journey, and I wouldn’t see myself working in any other sector.”

Stepping up at ACCPA

Daniel’s influence extends beyond operational roles; he was a founding board member of ACCPA (Aged and Community Care Providers Association), instrumental in the merging of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) and Leading Age Services Australia  (LASA) to establish the sector’s new peak body. 

ACCPA’s core values are to advocate and provide support, advice and guidance to aged care providers to ensure a high-performing and sustainable aged care sector so that older Australians can live their best lives.

Since its inception, ACCPA has been considered the trusted voice of the aged care sector. It’s not just a platform for peoples’ opinions but a forum where leaders can gain insight and guidance. 

Over the years the peak body has worked towards enhancing the well-being of older Australians through a high-performing, trusted and sustainable aged care sector.

This support has been important during the most recent period of change, with the sector experiencing COVID-19, care minutes and staffing mandates, funding changes and ongoing reform.

This sector has understandably gone through one of its toughest periods, and according to Daniel, now more than ever, it will rely on the ACCPA to seek answers. With the new Aged Care Act coming into play, everyone has their eyes and ears open.

“I think the aim of the board will continue to build all of those tools to help support a strong and sustainable aged care sector into the future,” says Daniel. 

Daniel Aitchison is an experienced figure in the Aged Care sector, boasting over 20 years of experience across not-for-profit and private organisations in Australia. Daniel’s career spans the entirety of aged care services, ranging from home care to retirement and residential aged care, across diverse geographic landscapes.

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