Lateral thinking in clinical training in WA

An old unoccupied nursing home building is reborn as a clinical education centre for medical, nursing and podiatry students from UWA as well as for staff of the aged care provider.

Left to right:  Associate Professor of Nursing Science, UWA,  Rosemary Saunders; Winthrop Professor Ian Puddey, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, UWA; Janet Spouse, Program Manager, HealthWorkforce Australia; and Stephen Becsi, CEO The Bethanie Group.

By Keryn Curtis

The Bethanie Group in Western Australia is the latest aged care provider to take the plunge into academic teaching and learning, recently announcing a partnership with the University of Western Australia.

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Western Australia (UWA) has formed a collaboration with The Bethanie Group to launch a new project called, ‘Beyond the Teaching Nursing Home – A Community Partnership of Learning & Care’. 

According to a joint statement from Bethanie and the University, the project is being led by the nursing program within the School of Population Health at UWA with funding by Health Workforce Australia.

A key element in this decentralised teaching and learning model is enabling older adults to participate in the hands-on clinical training of health professionals including registered and enrolled nursing students, medicine students and podiatric medicine students.  This has been made possible through establishing a clinical education centre on the grounds of one of Bethanie’s campuses.  

The new clinical learning environment was created by the refurbishment of an unused wing within the Bethanie Joondanna Nursing Home.  Located adjacent to the two Bethanie Joondanna residential aged care hostels and independent living units, the learning centre will enable students from a wide range of health care professions to engage directly with older people on site, to understand their specific health needs. 

According to the statement, as part of the training process, students participate in a range of simulated and real clinical activities with participants, both in the clinical learning environment and the aged care facility, providing opportunities for residents to volunteer as participants.

The new clinical learning environment includes a 12 bed ward with podiatric, general practice and nurse practitioner clinics plus a simulated community flat, enabling students to learn the skills and attributes required to provide care in a variety of settings.

While the clinical learning environment will facilitate the development of clinical, procedural and inter-professional care skills while working with older adults, it will also provide much needed clinical training placements for UWA nursing and medical students. 

Speaking at the launch, Bethanie CEO, Steve Besci said the experience and learning opportunities provided by this approach were invaluable.

“This innovative idea is one of the first times that a teaching nursing home is based on a campus, where residents of that campus are directly involved in the training of the health workforce. What the students will learn simply cannot be taught via any text book as the residents themselves will teach the students about how they wish to be interacted with, treated and communicated with,” he said.

The clinical learning environment will also provide a dedicated learning space for the training of Bethanie employees.

The Department of Health and Ageing has provided additional funding to the project to support the clinical training of registered and enrolled nursing students.

On site, left to right: Bethanie worker, Gay Walker; Bethanie resident, Lois Theyers; Bethanie resident, Lenore Harvey; and student, Daniel Ballinger 


Tags: bethanie, learning-centre, medical-students, teaching-nursing-home, university-of-western-australia,

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