Qld’s new teaching aged care facility

Undergraduate nurse training comes of age on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast

By Keryn Curtis

Churches of Christ Care in Queensland is set to join the growing ranks of ‘teaching aged care facilities’ following a recent Commonwealth government injection of funds.

The $240,240 was awarded to Churches of Christ Care’s Sunshine Coast education partner, the University of the Sunshine Coast, for the construction of two clinical training rooms at a new Care facility to be built in Caloundra.

The project is one of 35 Health Workforce Australia capital projects, totalling $51 million, being funded across Queensland to improve clinical education and training infrastructure across the state.

Head of the School of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Professor John Lowe, said the increased student nursing places to be made available at the Caloundra site were essential to meet growing demand.

Above: Professor John Lowe, University of the Sunshine Coast

“There are shortages of training places everywhere but especially on the Sunshine Coast.  As aged care nursing jobs will be increasing in the future, it’s important for students to have more exposure to aged care work.

“With the ageing population on the coast, it’s the ideal time to make sure students get their best opportunity for aged care training. A key aspect of this project is that it will be a purpose-built education facility in an aged care setting.”

Professor Lowe said it was vital for a positive education experience that student placements are properly supported and resourced.

“Students need more than the end of a table in the tea room. The purpose built, dedicated spaces will facilitate good teaching with simulation rooms and space where students can do some extra work or get one on one help.

“It will enable university facilitators and coordinators to work with aged care facility staff to ensure they are trained too so students get the best mentoring. Hopefully this will help dissolve some negative perceptions about aged care.”

Churches of Christ Care’s General Manager of Aged Care, Jeanette Evans, agreed that the on-site clinical teaching and access to residents for students would contribute to more positive images of aged care.

“We see it as a great opportunity to provide a centre of excellence for student learning, particularly in aged care because aged care does struggle to attract students. It should help to convince students that aged care is a good choice”  

Ms Evans said that while Churches of Christ Care has taken students in their facilities for clinical practice on an ad hoc basis for many years, the new Caloundra facility, which is yet to be built, will be the organisation’s first formal teaching facility for undergraduates.

“The way the learning experience is structured means it will be more positive for the students.”

“The program will be driven by the university and that will influence the way the spaces are designed and used.  It is likely the spaces will be flexible in their use – as clinical space, meeting rooms or somewhere for students to feel welcome and comfortable with access to computers and the internet and other resources. 

“We are fortunate to have the partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast,” said Ms Evans.

“It’s good for the students but also good for the residents who generally enjoy the interaction with younger people and the opportunity to share their stories while feeling they’re getting ‘best practice’ care.

It is hoped the new facility, on a 10 hectare site, will be completed in 2014.  It is likely to have 96 beds plus some retirement living units.  COCC is also looking at including some affordable housing units onsite.  Some of those units may be used to accommodate students at reduced rent prices.

Tags: aged-care, ageing, churches-of-christ-care, commonwealth-government, health-workforce-australia, jeannette-evans, professor-john-lowe, school-of-health-and-sport-sciences, teaching-aged-care-facility, teaching-nursing-home, university-of-the-sunshine-coast,

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