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Quality work placements changing perceptions about aged care

There is an ever-increasing need for aged-care professionals in Australia. At the same time, service providers struggle to recruit enough RNs for these positions. This is particularly true in rural and regional areas.

Researchers from Charles Sturt University have not stood idle in the face of this challenge. They have launched a study that aims to attract more nursing graduates into aged care. Their practical and adaptable approach has been so successful that it is already being expanded to include more service providers and other stakeholders.

“What we’ve come up with is a model where the Charles Sturt University students studying aged care have been having their tutorials in the aged-care facility,” said Dr Maree Bernoth, senior lecturer at CSU.

Earlier studies had indicated that graduating nurses often have negative views about aged care. Bernoth and her team have been able to change this by providing student nurses with well-supported and positive work experience placements.

“We found that the students enjoyed that,” Bernoth said. “They learned a lot from that. They came back to the university fired up, ready to learn, with an open-minded, changed attitude.”

In just the last few weeks, the project has attracted the interest of several aged-care service providers around the Dubbo area, where the campus is situated.

“We have been amazed at how quickly people have come on board, how enthusiastic the aged-care providers and the service providers are in working with us, and also Charles Sturt University and the powers that be here.”

Bernoth is grateful and delighted about the current level of support for the project, and encouraged other service providers to get in touch.

“We’d like to see that this could be a model that could be used in other rural and regional communities to build that workforce and to provide the care that we want our older people to have, wherever they are and wherever they choose to live.”

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