The ‘teaching nursing home’ concept in Australia took a big step forward yesterday with the announcement of a new Chair in Positive Ageing and Care to be established under an agreement between the University of NSW and aged care provider, HammondCare.

The new professorial position within the University’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine is being funded by HammondCare for $1.67 million over five years.  It will be physically located at the new Clinical Training Centre, being built with part of a $3.3 million federal government grant, at HammondCare’s Hammondville campus in Sydney’s south-west.

The role is being described as a pioneering scheme which will bring together community care, residential care and sub-acute hospital care under a ‘one stop shop’ for aged care. 

The establishment of the Chair was announced yesterday by HammondCare CEO, Dr Stephen Judd and Professor Peter Smith, Dean of Medicine at UNSW.

Dr Judd said it was unusual for a charitable organisation to be the benefactor. 

“Usually we are the recipients of other people’s philanthropy – so why are we doing this?”

Dr Judd said the board and management of HammondCare believed that the shape of health and aged care needs to change to enable more convergence and better integration between aged care and acute care.

“Historically, aged care, acute care and sub acute services like palliative care, rehabilitation and older persons’ mental health, have operated in silos with little or no integration, largely due to the history of various types of care being funded by different tiers of government,” said Dr Judd.

“Present models for teaching about aged care are all primarily based in acute care teaching hospitals where the heavy clinical workload rarely allows medical, nursing and allied health students to be exposed to care in the community, which is where most older people live.”

Dr Judd said older people prefer to avoid hospital unless they have an acute illness, and that avoiding hospitalisation also made good economic sense.

“Our goal is to have medical, nursing and allied health clinical training, as well as research, on site both in aged care and sub acute settings, not just in acute hospitals.”

“We see there is an opportunity to pioneer a new model of care which is centred on the older consumer and brings together community, residential and sub-acute hospital care into a single matrix of care,” he said

Professor Smith said this new model allowed education and research to play fundamental roles in ensuring there is a fully competent workforce delivering the care that aged consumers need, and that staff are critically evaluating and improving the quality of the services delivered against expected outcomes and care standards.

“This academic will have a substantial clinical consultant role at Hammondville and HammondCare’s Braeside Hospital at Pairiewood, as well as being the champion for thedevelopment of community-based aged and disabled care research and teaching of students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.”

Professor Smith also said that not for profit organisations in the healthcare field were under-recognised but critically important.

“HammondCare’s mission is closely aligned with UNSW’s mission and that has made this partnership very easy to bring about,” he said.

An appointment is expected to be made in the first quarter of 2011.

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