Aged care peak body Aged and Community Services Australia is one of three organisations funded to establish a program to upskill and mentor new nurses under a new initiative.
The Aged Care Transition to Practice program was announced in the 2020-21 Federal Budget in October part of a $10.8 million funding package expanded on in the 2021-22 Budget in May 2021 with additional places.
The University of Wollongong, the Australian College of Nursing and ACSA have been awarded the funding to immediately establish three-year ACTTP programs from July to attract 740 new nurses to aged care and retain them.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the ACTTP was designed to support graduate nurses to join aged care.
The ACTTPs provide guidance to nurses in their first year of clinical practice through mentorship, professional development and specialist clinical training.
ACSA chair Sara Blunt said ACSA would use the funding to build on its 12-month Aged Care Services Graduate Nurse Transition to Practice Program, which has more than 60 graduates engaged and over 280 graduates.
“The program has successfully allowed newly graduated nurses to become confident, safe, competent and professional practitioners in a range of aged care settings and helped improve the availability and standard of care in facilities where it has run,” Ms Blunt told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Ms Blunt said the Aged Care Workforce 2016 Census highlighted the shortage of registered nurses in aged care.
“We have a significant shortfall in registered nurses in aged care facilities across the country with 41 per cent of all aged care facilities reporting skills shortages for registered nurses,” Ms Blunt said.
“We want aged care to be an industry of choice for new nursing graduates who will be essential for delivering on the significant reforms outlined in the royal commission report that have the potential to transform the sector in coming years,” she said.
Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Alison McMillian said the training program would include infection prevention and control, nutrition, falls prevention and wound care.
“Transition to practice programs are common in other parts of the health sector and their introduction to aged care will go a long way to boosting the sector,” Adjunct Professor McMillan said.
“Many graduates don’t realise aged care provides nurses with opportunities for rapid development and career advancement compared to other clinical settings.”
The mentorship component of the program will ensure graduate nurses see opportunities for growth in aged care, she said.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck said the program would allow graduates to see the benefit and contribution they can make to older Australians.
Access the Aged Care Workforce 2016 census.