A partnership between the University of the Sunshine Coast and aged care provider Lutheran Services has attracted enthusiastic nurses to the industry after completing final-year placements in aged care homes.
The aged care sector has faced repeated workforce shortages but the ‘Transition to Practice’ program has already yielded quality results with two out of five placements leading to permanent employment at the aged care home.
UniSC aged care specialist, Dr John Rosenberg, said the timing of the placement was incredibly beneficial for nursing students who were interested in aged care but had not spent a serious amount of time looking after the elderly.
“Usually, aged-care placements occur in [the] first year, where the emphasis is mostly on an introduction to general nursing, yet aged care residents have complex needs that require knowledgeable and skilful practitioners,” Dr Rosenberg said.
“In this final year placement, we’ve added extra layers of targeted learning, including a series of lectures led by UniSC academics and industry professionals.
“These cover topics such as dementia, falls prevention, wound management and end-of-life care – all critical issues for our students to become familiar with, to prepare them for careers as Registered Nurses in aged care.”
Many aged care homes are crying out for Registered Nurses (RNs) as the 24/7 RN nursing requirement edges closer – it will be mandated from July 1.
And with many rural and regional providers facing closure if they cannot recruit and sustain nursing numbers for the long term, enticing new nurses into aged care is essential.
For Lutheran Services Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nick Ryan, the partnership has helped his organisation tackle workforce challenges by going straight to the source of future talent.
“It’s also a great way of harnessing the passion of our up-and-coming nursing students and providing an easier pathway into such a rewarding area as aged care,” Mr Ryan said.
But there’s hope that by working closely with older people and experienced nurses in aged care prior to graduating, young nurses will be attracted to specialist aged care roles.
“Aged care, in particular palliative care, was a career goal when I began my studies,” graduating student Wendy Williams said.
“It requires a lot of critical thinking to put your practices and education together to work out the optimal care for residents with complex needs and that is ultimately hugely rewarding.
“The placement was so valuable and securing a job at the end with Lutheran Services was icing on the cake.”