Reality TV meets aged care education

A collaboration between UNSW and HammondCare, funded under the Government’s TRACS initiative, is breaking bold new ground in aged care education.

Above: Associate Professor Andrew Cole kicks off the first session of Real Cases, Real Time.

By Keryn Curtis

The first session of a new, innovative approach to aged care education got off the blocks this week, less than a week after the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, formally announced the funding that made it possible.

The new education program, called ‘Real Cases, Real Time‘, has been developed by HammondCare and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) with a grant of $715,000 from the Commonwealth under the Teaching and Research Aged Care Services (TRACS) initiative.  It uses video-conferencing technology to link multiple remote sites to a clinical training centre in real time, to deliver two streams of education – one for registered healthcare professionals and the other for care support workers. 

HammondCare’s Chief Medical Officer, Associate Professor Andrew Cole, together with Associate Professor Chris Poulos from UNSW, led a team of teachers, trainers, researchers and IT specialists over the past few months to develop the first phase of ‘Real Cases, Real Time’.

Prof Cole describes ‘Real Cases, Real Time’ as ‘a gigantic leap forward’, saying it delivers training in a way that he has not seen before in the aged care space – using a case method tutorial approach.

“As far as I know this is a completely new way of approaching education in aged care and part of what we will be doing is testing how effective it is. We’ve been building towards projects like this in recent years and believe it will help shape the future of aged care training,” said Prof Cole.

The primary teaching space will be at HammondCare’s Hammondville site in Sydney’s south west, but it links with up to five other regional and rural venues by video-conferencing in ‘real time’.

“It means we can spread the training as never before,” he said.

“The course has 10 sessions on topics relating to older people, which begin with 10 to 15 minutes of teaching from an expert practitioner. Participants then work through a case study, discussing questions relevant to the focus topic for that day.

“This design elicits shared knowledge from all of the participants and grounds their education in the real world of individual people’s experience of health and aged care,” said Prof Cole.

Care worker knowledge acknowledged  

The Real Cases, Real Time program offers the 10 sessions for both of the streams – stream one being for the professionally registered aged care workforce including registered nurses, GPs and allied health staff. Stream two is for the care support workforce, whose role in aged care delivery, according to Prof Cole, is vital.

“Traditionally the knowledge of this second group has frequently been disrespected within the sector, often even by the workers themselves, because they don’t think they know as much as doctors and nurses.

“But they have tremendous knowledge which they may collate and arrange in a different way in their minds. This training will make room for the sharing of this knowledge and provide a conceptual framework for bringing all of that knowledge together within the groups.”

Many of the teachers for the course will be drawn from HammondCare’s health and aged care services such as A/Prof Andrew Cole, psychologist Dr Catriona Lorang, Dementia Centre Director Colm Cunningham, pain specialist A/Prof Phil Siddall and rehabilitation exercise physiologist Natalie Robson.

Topics include an ageing overview, the body’s defences against infection, understanding dementia, mobility, pain, nutrition, medications, wound care and end of life care.

Prof Cole says ‘Real Cases, Real Time’ is not just about education, but includes a formal research evaluation, a crucial component for funding under the initiative, conducted by the School of Public Health and Community Medicine UNSW.  

“This takes place after each training session, as well as further evaluation of the whole process, after two complete one-year pilot training rotations have taken place.

“A final report on the model will then be presented back to the Federal Government for consideration as a training solution that may possibly be distributed to other aged care providers,” he said.

Photo caption: The first session of Real Cases, Real Time got under way this week with teaching delivered from a live site in HammondCare’s Clinical Training Centre at Hammondville, interacting in real time with five remote sites as far away as Bathurst and the Illawarra.

The TRACS initiative

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler last week announced 16 grants for universities and aged care services, including HammondCare, under the Teaching and Research Aged Care Services (TRACS) initiative.

The funding is for projects across Australia to create integrated aged care teaching centres that combine teaching and learning, research, care provision and service delivery in one location to create a learning environment akin to teaching hospitals.

“By 2050 we expect that more than 1 in 20 working Australians will be an aged care worker. This means we need more than half a million new workers and we want the best possible learning environment for this wave of students,” Mr Butler said. 

Tags: hammondcare, prof-andrew-cole, prof-chris-poulos, real-cases-real-time, teaching-and-research-aged-care-services, tracs,

1 thought on “Reality TV meets aged care education

  1. Hi,
    It sounds great and I look forward to see how it works in the Kimberley and if people in remote Kimberley communities will also be able to access the training.

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