According to the Aged Care Royal Commission’s final report, Australia’s aged care workforce is under-trained with not enough investment in staff education.
“Aged care workers often lack sufficient skills and training to cater for the needs of older people receiving aged care services,” wrote Commissioner Lynelle Briggs.
“Inadequate staffing levels, skill mix and training are principal causes of substandard care in the current system.”
Registered nurses are playing a crucial role in this challenging environment – given their training and capacity for clinical leadership.
In good news, the Australian College of Nursing is meeting the need for clinical nurse leadership in aged care with a new CPD series that supports nurses in the sector.
Designed to update knowledge and ensure best practice in aged care nursing, Dr Drew Dwyer, nurse educator and ACN course presenter, said the series covers a wide range of highly relevant topics, with new online and fact-to-face courses produced each week.
“Some of the modules are governance topics, such as understanding the government’s Aged Care Standards – knowing the legislation, understanding how to interpret them so they can make the best decisions in their practice,” he shared.
“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.”
Nurses face “complex” challenges
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.
“Caring for the elderly is very complex. It’s a quite specialised science, so when nurses start dealing with elderly people, there’s a number of complex things they have to wrap their heads around in order to make their decisions,” added Dr Dwyer. “They have to learn to balance general nursing with palliative approaches, end of life care, with dignity, choice and a social model of care.”
“We aim to bring them up to standard with modern knowledge and contemporary practice because, unfortunately when they are out there, they are on their own, or trying to make a decision when they are the only nurse on the shift,” he said.
“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.”
Reassurance and peace of mind for residents and families
Nurses can undertake the college’s CPD courses online at any time, to achieve their CPD requirements before registration on May 31.
Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward, CEO of ACN, says 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 Prof. Ward.