Brightwater and Helping Hand have been running IPE programs

A new online program to embed interprofessional education (IPE) in aged care organisations nationally will be launched early next year, following the successful implementation of IPE programs by two aged care providers.

The website-based toolkit called IPEAC (Interprofessional Education in Aged Care) is being funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre to support aged care providers in facilitating student placements at their facilities.

The new resource is being informed by the experiences of two major providers, Brightwater Care Group in Western Australia and Helping Hand Aged Care in South Australia, which have been running IPE programs over recent years in order to increase professional collaboration between students from all health disciplines in their facilities.

Following the success of the IPE programs and the demonstrated benefits for residents, the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre is now funding the development of the online toolkit to support the uptake of such programs at aged care facilities across Australia.

The evaluation of the providers’ programs, also funded by the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre, investigated the impacts on residents, students and facility staff.

Improved perceptions of aged care: evaluation

IPE programs support multidisciplinary placements in aged care
IPE programs support multidisciplinary placements in aged care

The report, released this week, found students said they were more likely to consider a career in aged care following an IPE placement.

The evaluation also found the students had more positive perceptions of working in aged care after their placement, and there was improved knowledge of other professionals among both students and the facility staff.

The IPE programs also provided additional support and social contact for residents, the evaluation found.

“Allied Health, nursing, medicine, care workers and pharmacy staff all contribute to the care needs of the elderly and so collaboration between these disciplines in supporting clinical placements in residential aged care facilities provides many interprofessional learning opportunities,” it said.

Toolkit to support IPE programs

Following the success of the IPE pilots, Brightwater Care Group and Helping Hand were now applying knowledge from their projects to create the IPE toolkit for residential aged care staff.

“The development of this toolkit will enable aged care staff to support interprofessional education and practice and to facilitate interprofessional student placements,” according to the evaluation report.

The IPEAC program is a website-based toolkit for aged care providers to facilitate student placements at their sites. It is due to be released early next year.

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1 Comment

  1. Three aspects of equal importance
    *Workforce strategy must include care staff with registration of specific qualification in aged care/dementia education and ability to provide care based on a model of care partnerships (person centred, relationship focused approach) rather than task specific roles underpinned by the current education certificates. Care staff register annually to practice and maintain proof of current practice/education.

    *Workforce strategy must also include a ratio of staff to residents that allows for holistic care of few not physical care/ task specific care to the many. No strategy will work unless numbers and capacity of human resources increase. Salary must be increased in line with the new aged care/dementia qualification.

    * Further a strategy must include the presence of registered nurses with specific aged care and dementia qualifications on the floor in residential aged care facilities. Residents in facilities are frail and have multiple medical comorbidities that require symptom monitoring and management that is beyond certificate 3 and 4 staff capacity. Physical and cognitive frailty will continue to increase among the population who enter and live in residential aged care.

    Residential aged care facilities would benefit economically and culturally from the employment of a nurse practitioner in gerontology/dementia to provide immediate clinical services. Much of the clinical assessment and management of medical illnesses would be best managed by a nurse who has relationship and intimate knowing about residents as well as the specialised knowledge and skills to treat people before referral to specialist medical staff.

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