Moira Laverty, Queen Victoria Home
The Queen Victoria Home is a Teaching Aged Care Facility working collaboratively with both the University of Tasmania and The Wicking Dementia Research & Education Centre. One stream of this collaboration is our on-going involvement in a program of health student placements facilitated by the Wicking Centre since 2011 and other research relationships such as the respiratory pathways (reducing the unplanned admissions to hospital of residents who have a chronic respiratory condition) and nutrition in aged care (aimed at increasing our understandings of the nutrition care of residents).
One of the successful developments in the teaching aged care facilities program has been the inter-professional learning activities which commenced in 2013. From our point of view, the inter-professional engagement between medical, nursing, and paramedic students during their placements brought a range of benefits to our organisation, our staff and residents. Specific benefits included collaborative decision making in relation to individual residents with complex health needs, meaningful engagement with a range of QVH staff in the review of residents and their health histories, and opportunities for students to contribute to improved resident care.
Increasingly our staff are managing the care of residents with higher acuity, complex care needs and greater comorbidities. There is a need for new job roles and a need to expand the knowledge base and competence of the vast majority of our workforce, namely our carers. The majority of interactions with these health students sits with the carers who assist them in understanding the context of the care of our residents. We believe these interactions provide a platform for staff to consider a career pathway in aged care in a way they may not have done so previously. The increasing number of carer staff undertaking further education and returning to QVH on completion of studies as enrolled nurses, registered nurses or honours students is evidence of this change.
A further example of our commitment, this year each manager and a significant number of their staff have committed to undertaking education in dementia in the acknowledgement that this will improve their understanding of the disease process and directly impact on the care provided to residents. This program of engagement with further education and training is part of an overarching plan to grow and develop our existing workforce as well as proving to assist in the recruitment of highly motivated and suitable staff.