The University of Canberra (UC) and university partners has been granted a $2.1 million Commonwealth tender to lead a project that aims to strengthen and sustain the nursing workforce in aged care facilities. This collaborative initiative involves two primary components: training and support for nurse educators, as well as clinical placements for second-and third-year nursing students in residential aged care settings.
Professor Kasia Bail, an expert in Gerontological Nursing, emphasised that the project’s objective is to promote nursing specialisation in geriatrics. This area of nursing requires highly skilled professionals, but it is often overshadowed by other specialties as it is commonly misconstrued as providing only “basic” nursing care.
Geriatric patients often present with multiple concurrent conditions, complex health needs, and diverse requirements for medication, treatment, and care routines. Consequently, clinical decision-making for aged care nurses becomes nuanced and impactful.
“We are thrilled to be implementing this project as it will play a pivotal role in making the complexities of gerontological nursing visible, accessible, and learnable for nursing students,” said Prof Bail.
Distinguished Professor Diane Gibson, specialising in Health and Ageing, highlighted the importance of supporting nursing students in developing the skills and knowledge necessary to respond to the intricate clinical needs of older adults. The older population is among the highest users of health services due to the complexity of their health needs, extending beyond aged care settings.
Professor Bail and Distinguished Professor Gibson will collaborate with Professor Michelle Lincoln, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health, Professor Jenny Weller-Newton, Nursing Discipline Lead, Associate Professor Holly Northam, and Alicia Hind, Lecturer and Nursing Professional Practice Convenor, to deliver this ambitious program at UC.
In addition, the project will involve collaborations with Professor Karen Strickland from Edith Cowan University, Professor Vicki Traynor from the University of Wollongong, and Professor Tracey Moroney from Curtin University. Together, these experts bring a wealth of experience in research, education, leadership, and clinical expertise in gerontological nursing.
Starting from the second semester of 2023 until the end of 2024, the universities will partner with health services and aged care providers to implement the project. The program will incorporate evidence-based frameworks such as the Gerontological Nursing Competencies program and the Murra Mullangari First Nations cultural safety program from CATSINaM (Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives) to develop new cohorts of gerontology nurse mentors in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW), and Western Australia (WA).
The program’s educational approaches will emphasise academically enriching activities during aged care placements to enhance student learning.