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New resources aim to attract health students to aged care


Central Queensland University researchers have developed a short course and two workbooks to encourage students to complete a work placement in aged care settings.

The Story-care project, which was funded by the Australian Collaborative Education Network, has developed a creative writing based interdisciplinary learning experience to encourage students to take up a work placement at an aged care facility.

The project also aims to show aged care providers that students can add value to the organisation.

The researchers ran a pilot involving 22 students and two aged care facilities in Noosa, Queensland, which involved a workshop to help improve their empathy when caring for residents and develop storytelling skills.

During the pilot, they wrote stories about a resident at their aged care facility placement, which were  published as an anthology to highlight the good aspect of working in aged care and inspire others.

Using findings form the pilot, the Centre for Professional Development at CQU has developed a free eight hour online short course to explore the concepts of person-centred care and developing storytelling skills.

Project team leader Professor Margaret McAllister said Story-care can help change how students see the aged care sector.

“This whole story development process made them think about the nursing home as a memorable experience, as something that they will never forget, which we hope means they look upon aged care favourably, and maybe choose it as a career in the future,” Professor McAllister told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Professor Margaret McAllister

The short course aims to improve student’s knowledge about what wholistic care is, person-centred care and to encourage working in a non-ageist way, said Professor McAllister, a professor of nursing at CQU.

“We’re hoping to promote [the short course] to all health students so they can learn about story development and go out to care with a renewed purpose and speak to residents with intention,” Professor McAllister said.

Two free workbooks have been developed for students and clinical supervisors.

The workbooks encourage students to understand the difference between cursory and deep listening and introduce the concept of using narrative to help older people feel valued and head.

Topics covered in the workbooks include learning about empathy and sympathy and understanding the difference between person-centred care and being task-centred, Professor McAllister said.

She said the anthology has helped to create a sense of community in aged care facilities and change how students see older people and aged care.

“The benefits have been that they value aged care, they don’t dismiss it,” Professor McAllister said.

She said the students can help residents find their sense of purpose by writing stories about them.

“They have a very important part to play as students. They’re not just a burden on healthcare staff, they can be an asset, by helping residents find meaning in their life and be part of building a strong community in that nursing home,” she said.

Professor McAllister said Story-care could help attract more people to the sector.

“The students are the nurses of the future, and if they have a positive outlook on aged care, then they can see the work is not just technical tasks and heavy tasks of washing dependent patients and helping them to walk and to feed them.

“If they also see that the work is cognitive and it’s about bringing people together, then they will see their work as a rewarding pathway,” Professor McAllister said.

The workbooks will be available on the ACEN website in a few weeks.

Access the short course here.

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