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Professor Traynor and project officer Nicole Britten. Photo: UOW

A common vision for gerontological nursing on the horizon

Researchers and nurses have agreed on the content of a competency framework for gerontological nursing.

Associate professor Victoria Traynor from the University of Wollongong’s School of Nursing said the idea of a framework or approach that could be considered standard came from a group of not-for-profit aged care providers, called the Nursing in Aged Care Collaborative.

“The providers were saying, ‘We're all doing something slightly different. We think we're doing the right thing but everything's different, so let's come together and develop a common vision',” Traynor said.

She added a competency framework would give the public reassurance that the aged care industry is going to deliver services of a similar high standard. “Developing a competency framework is one way to address all the issues these providers grapple with: recruiting staff, retaining them, deciding what education is delivered to the staff, and what specialist services are offered older people in nursing homes and the community.”

Traynor said the competency framework could also be used for career development and designing university courses for nurses.

After reviewing the literature to find what competency frameworks and quality standards already existed, UOW researchers held a workshop with 80 senior registered nurses who reviewed a comprehensive list of competencies.

From this, a draft list was created, on which a group of 409 registered nurses gave feedback through five rounds of online consultation.

Traynor said: “We used a rigorous research approach and developed a competency framework that's been wholly endorsed by experts, mainly from Australia but also an international cohort of experts. These are experts who mainly work in clinical practice, but also some academics and researchers in the field.

“We reached a 95 per cent agreement on the content of the competency framework.

“The participants thought it should have two levels of practice: an essential level of practice for most registered nurses working in aged care; and an enhanced level of practice for those who are expert in the specialism.”

The next stage of the research will involve pilot testing the competency framework in clinical practice with registered nurses and their managers. The research team said additional providers are welcome to come on board.

Later in the year, the competency framework will be made freely available on the Aged and Dementia Health Education and Research (ADHERe) website.

The project is a collaboration among UOW and providers HammondCare, Uniting, Scalabirni, Anglicare and BaptistCare.

Click here to view an earlier article on the project and hear from Traynor.

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