In a first for Australia, Deakin University and Southern Health have announced plans to establish a teaching nursing home in Melbourne.

With $300,000 in funding from the JO & JR Wicking Trust, the Deakin-Southern Health Research Centre will set-up a unique education and workforce development program designed specifically for the aged care sector.

The project will be the first of its kind specifically designed to meet the needs of the different levels of direct care staff in residential aged care settings, while at the same time supporting student nurses.

Deakin University’s Professor Bev O’Connell, who will lead the project, said the residential aged care sector required significant additional support for developing its workforce and evidence-based practice.

“The key challenge facing the aged care sector is to maintain the quality of care for residents within the context of a growing workforce of fewer highly skilled registered nurses and increased numbers of residential care workers,” she said.

“The demand for aged care services is increasing and placing pressure on an already stretched workforce.

“There are also concerns that it will be difficult to find the increased number of appropriately skilled staff needed to support the growing demands.”

The teaching nursing home will be located in a 100-bed, high and low care residential facility being built by Southern Health in Doveton. It will be completed by late 2008.

The facility will offer on the job training for Deakin nursing students along with tailored educational programs in leadership and evidenced based practice for all direct care staff.

“We anticipate that once trialed and evaluated, the teaching nursing home will provide a model of best practice for residential aged care facilities that can be replicated around the country,” Professor O’Connell said.

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