Feeding a thirst

Sometimes the easiest way to learn is to just jump in the deep end. One QLD care provider has done exactly that.

Above (L to R):  Simon Brew (registered nurse), Rob Shipley(registered nurse), Terry Arthur (General Manager), Maxine None (Director of Nursing), Monica Barge (enrolled nurse), Sue Pascoe (enrolled nurse), Jeff Potter (St Vincent Director of Clinical Care)

By Lillian Radulova 

A Queensland-based facility has thrown staff out of their aged care comfort zones and into an acute care environment, promoting a thirst for knowledge with an employee placement program of sorts.

Salem Lutheran Rest Home in Toowoomba recently sent their third batch of nurses to work in the acute ward of St Vincent’s Hospital for 40 weeks to gain hands on experience in a clinical environment.

Rob Shipley, a registered nurse from Salem who took part, said the program was about more than just learning technical skills but also about networking with hospital staff and forming relationships.

“It’s incredibly important to do it, not just from a skills perspective, but to see it from the different perspectives; to see the acute carers needs as well as the chronic carers needs,” Mr Shipley said.

“I think the hospital staff benefited from understanding nursing from aged care perspective, especially with residents who transfer to and from hospital.

“[The program] optimises the care of the patients or resident in the sense that we’re communicating more than we would be; lines of dialogue are open and it gives me deeper knowledge of resident experience in hospital, which is important as in lots of cases resident can’t communicate that them selves.”

Ongoing education was also a major benefit of the program as participants were able to improve certain clinical skills by being involved. For example, some got to prepare intravenous infusion, manage IV pumps, administer IV antibiotics and monitor ECG’s.

Mr Shipley explained that practicing these skills in an acute care environment provided him with the great benefit of knowledge refreshment.

“It taught me how different the environments are, because acute care is obviously more interventional whereas chronic care is not so much that and more maintenance,” he said.

“I picked up a lot of extra skills; wound dressings, medicines, hanging of drips – all the sort of thing we don’t do, but may do further down the track as aged care becomes more acute. As an aged care nurse you tend to de-skill over time because you’re not practicing these things regularly.”

When asked whether he personally taught the nurses at St Vincent’s Hospital anything about the type of quality care provided in aged care, Mr Shipley said he thinks he left a colourful impression.

“I wear very bright and colourful shirts as a way of stimulating people with dementia, they respond to bright colours and it provides a talking point and gives them a laugh. 

“Regardless of whether the nurses noticed and commented or not, the patients in the hospital did, because of the contrast – that was my personal contribution… nurses can be very serious and sombre as they are very task orientated, and I think I took a more playful attitude there, and hopefully its rubbed off in a few of those people.”

As to pursuing a nursing career in a hospital and leaving aged care, Mr Shipley said the program did not change his preference.

“If I was in nursing for the money I would be in hospitals. I’m doing this job because I enjoy doing it. 

“I’d rather look after the same people everyday than have six new ones everyday, I like forming relationships and getting to know and understand them and providing better care for them.”

Salem’s general manager, Terry Arthur said he was proud of the relationship that has developed between the staff in both sectors through the partnership.

“This experience has given them a wonderful opportunity to grow professionally,” he said.

Tags: acute-care, chronic-care, clinical-skills, salem-luthern-rest-home, st-vincents-hospital,

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