Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Professor Kim Johnston
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law
Dr Anne Lane
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law


Personal care assistants (PCAs) in aged care facilities operate in a complex space between the need to provide comprehensive care for vulnerable and high-needs residents, and the desire of service providers to adhere to budget constraints within a highly regulated environment. Recent media attention has painted a dire picture of the aged care workers on whom these often-competing demands fall, particularly the PCAs. The sector is also experiencing chronic PCA shortages as it fails to attract staff to fill these needs.

This vacation research project/study draws on the literature of employee engagement, internal branding, and organisational behaviour, to investigate PCAs’ perspectives on their role and explore the barriers and enablers for PCAs to perform in ways that meet the expectations of their clients, their employers, and society in general.

Research activities

The student will work with senior researchers to gather and analyse qualitative data. This will require the student to carry out:

  • a literature review on internal branding and employee engagement
    • following ethics approval (ethics application will be submitted by the supervisor)
  • depth interviews with a sample of PCAs currently working in the Australian aged care sector
  • a summary analysis.

It is expected that the student will commence towards end November 2022 - and dedicate approximately 12 hours/week for 10 weeks on the project. The student will meet with supervisors regularly during the project.

A VRES stipend may be offered to the successful candidate to support them to undertake their project.


The outcomes from this project will provide a deeper understanding of the value of PCAs to the Australian aged care system, and how they perceive – and respond to – the challenges they face in meeting these expectations. The research project constitutes a pilot study for a larger program. This work will inform the development of the final study by the senior researchers, and offer an opportunity to be involved in writing a journal article in the future.

Skills and experience

Area of interest:

  • workplace communication
  • internal branding
  • employee engagement
  • aged care sector.


  • good interpersonal communication skills
  • good writing skills
  • interest and ability in reading and summarising key literature
  • ability to work independently
  • interest in academic practice
  • good attention to detail.



Contact the supervisor for more information.