“Aged care workers often lack sufficient skills and training to cater to the needs of older people receiving aged care services,” Commissioner Lynelle Briggs wrote in the report.
“Inadequate staffing levels, skill mix and training are principal causes of substandard care in the current system.”
Nurses are playing a crucial role in this challenging environment, given their training and capacity for clinical leadership.
The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) identified a gap in education offerings and has created additional support for clinical nurse leadership in aged care with a new CPD series that supports nurses in the sector.
Nurse educator and ACN course presenter, Dr Drew Dwyer FACN, said the series is designed to update knowledge to ensure best practice in aged care nursing, and covers a wide range of highly relevant topics, with new online courses being produced.
Other modules cover clinical topics such as palliative care and end-stage dementia: two areas highlighted by the Royal Commission as in need of more staff training.
“The information is contemporary; it is best practice,” said Dr Dwyer. “Each session is an hour, so it doesn’t take the nurses long to get through, and it is exactly what these nurses require … we give nurses confidence they have evidence-based information, in a process that is easy to follow.”
According to Dr Dwyer, the need for education in the aged care sector is “immense”, given the unique challenges nurses face caring for the nation’s vulnerable.
“They have to learn to balance general nursing with palliative approaches, end of life care, with dignity, choice and a social model of care.”
To encourage clinical leadership amidst these complexities, Dr Dwyer said the CPD courses give participants evidence-based knowledge, so ultimately nurses can “stand validated on their practice” when making decisions.
“Clients then have confidence to know the nurses who are dealing with them are well-trained and educated; [these nurses] are getting the knowledge they need to be trusted.”
Nurses can undertake the ACN’s CPD courses online at any time to achieve their annual CPD requirements.
ACN’s Chief Executive Officer, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, said the courses also provide a timely opportunity for aged care facilities to up-skill their nursing staff.
“The professional development series is an opportunity for residential aged care facility operators to improve their service delivery and help assure residents and families they are doing everything they can to deliver high quality care,” said Adjunct Professor Ward.