Aged care health students have much to gain by hearing from older adults in the classroom, Australian researchers have said.
Associate professor Maree Bernoth, from Charles Sturt University (CSU), has involved people living in residential aged care in the learning experience in her own classroom and has noticed the benefits for both student and older adult.
“Older people have first-hand knowledge about ageing and we’ve found when they come into the classroom and share their stories it has a powerful effect. The students come away with a greater empathy and understanding, and the older people feel a greater connection to the community,” Bernoth said.
Bernoth, along with colleagues from CSU, have now received a Liveable Communities Grant from the NSW Government to develop a resource to help engage older people in aged care education.
The Older Persons Teaching and Empowering Aged Care Health Students (OPTEACH) project will see CSU researchers speak with older people who’ve already been involved in teaching programs to find out more about their experience and how they think it can be improved.
The team will also work with residents in four aged care facilities in the Nambucca Valley of NSW, Dubbo and Bathurst in the NSW Central West region and Deniliquin in the Riverina.
Bernoth said: “Older people in residential care can feel very isolated and getting them into the classroom to tell their stories is one way of showing their experience is valued by the community.
“Our aim is to find out what sort of support is needed to help them to become engaged with education and development programs, not just at Charles Sturt University but at other institutions and in training programs for staff within the sector.
“Educators also need support to make this kind of experience possible and we want to develop a set of resources that all aged care educators can draw on to include older people in residential care in their teaching programs.”Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]