Working in aged care
Working in a dynamic sector
Working in the aged care sector means taking on challenging work and working in a dynamic part of the health sector.
The funding support being provided by the Australian Government supports the sector as a growth area for employment and provides opportunities to work in innovative environments. Work is also under way to establish innovative approaches to working in aged care in a number of areas:
Teaching and Research Aged Care Services (TRACS)Teaching and Research Aged Care Services (TRACS) are aged care services that combine teaching, research, clinical care and service delivery in one location to operate as a learning environment, to support clinical placements and professional development activities in various disciplines.
The intent of the program is to provide funding to help establish a variety of TRACS models, and share the lessons learnt in establishing these models with the wider industry to inform current and future developments.
Three year funding agreements were executed in 2011-12 for 16 TRACS projects to a total value of $7.5 million (excluding GST). There are four projects in South Australia, three each in Victoria and Queensland, five in New South Wales, and one project spans three states - Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.
Collectively, the funded models will support training and professional development in a range of disciplines including nursing, psychology, medicine, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Key features of the funded models include aged care specific curriculum development, clinical training in residential and community care settings, inter-professional learning and participation by aged care employees in teaching, learning and research.
Evaluation is a key element of the TRACS initiative. It is expected the evaluation will identify practical strategies and processes that: help the aged care sector operate as a learning environment to facilitate high quality clinical training professional development opportunities; and deliver benefits to industry, students, staff and care recipients.
Further details about individual TRACS projects are available at.
- Aged Care & Housing Group
- Brotherhood of St Laurence
- Deakin University
- Griffith University
- Queensland University of Technology
- Resthaven Incorporated
- RSL LifeCare Limited
- St John’s Village, Incorporated
- Southern NSW Local Health District Aged Care Evaluation Unit
- University of Adelaide
- University of Canberra
- University of South Australia
- University of Southern Queensland
- University of Tasmania
- University of Wollongong
ContactsMr Jeff Fiebig - Manager, Program Development
Kirsty Marles Inter-professional Learning Project Manager
Consortium MembersFlinders University, University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, ClinEdSA and SA Health
The Interprofessional Learning Delivering Good Lives project aims to develop a framework that provides a consumer directed inter-professional training approach across the disciplines of; nursing, medicine, physiotherapy, pharmacy, psychology, dietetics, exercise physiology, speech pathology, social work and occupational therapy. Care worker students/staff and hotel services students/staff will also form a part of this IPL framework. The framework will enhance customer peer learning and teaching opportunities, student clinical placement experiences and extend learning opportunities for all ACH Group staff. Action research and a formative evaluation will run throughout the life of the project to identify, create and build on new, fluid and cohesive ways for people who use the services and professionals to learn and work together across existing and new models in health and ageing. This will be particularly emphasised in the development of the ACH Group’s ViTA project which is a collaboration between the South Australian Department of Health, Flinders University and ACH Group in building a teaching research aged care facility adjacent to the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park in Adelaide.
ACH Group will work with Flinders University, TAFE’s and develop partnerships with other educators to undertake a project specific evaluation to explore: learning experience in an inter-professional environment; changes in reciprocal attitudes between participant groups; the use of team approaches to caring for a specific client group; inter-professional collaboration between the teaching facility, students and staff and customers and their families; transfer of inter-professional learning to practice setting; change in organisational practice; and primarily the benefits to customers/consumers.
ContactsMs Christine Morka - General Manager, Retirement and Ageing
The hallmarks of the Sumner House Centre of Excellence project will be improved outcomes for all residents through extending the knowledge and skills of existing staff and providing opportunities for student learning and practice. Particular attention will be paid to residents requiring complex care including in clinical areas such as Huntingdon's disease, Parkinson's disease, dementia, diabetes and psychiatric illness.
To ensure that the training proposed for this project addresses contemporary concerns, an analysis of the needs and preferences of residents and their families will be conducted and used to inform the development and delivery of the training and mentoring programs. The project will integrate Brotherhood's workforce capability framework with formal training and industry-specific research.
With a focus on skills development for both existing staff and students, the training model includes both on the job training and placement based training with a special emphasis on provision of complex care. It will support training towards Certificate III, Certificate IV and Bachelor of Nursing qualifications in aged care. A key feature will be the integrated mentoring program that will draw together all staff within the service. Mentoring will be underpinned by reflective practice to facilitate the incorporation of learning into service delivery.
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ContactAssociate Professor Alison Hutchinson - Deputy Director of Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research
Centre for Innovation and Education in Aged Care (CIEAC) - Clinical service partnerships at http://www.deakin.edu.au/health/nursing/cieac/partners.php
Consortium MembersSouthern Health, Western District Health Service, Cabrini Health
The Tri Focal Model of Care: Teaching and Research Aged Care Services project will expand the existing education program based on the tri-focal approach - Developing Partnership-Centred Care; Building a Positive Work Environment; and Providing Evidence-based Practice - to aged care facilities located metropolitan and rural Victoria. This education program takes account of Australian regulatory requirements and aged care standards. The program will be delivered to all interested staff, residents’ family members and residents in the participating facilities by Facility Educators trained in the Tri-focal Model of Care.
The education program includes three professional modules: Introduction to the Tri-focal Model of Care; Collegiality and Teamwork; and Evidence-Based Practice through change management and leadership; and six clinical modules: Behaviours of Concern; Continence; Depression; Medication; Mobility; and Nutrition and Hydration. The education program is designed to be used by all levels of staff in the health care workforce, as well as family members, residents, and lay people.
ContactDr Lorraine Venturato - TRACS Project Lead at School of Nursing and Midwifery
Consortium MembersRSL Care Limited
The Triple C Model: Enhancing Aged Care Education and Practice through Collaboration, Creativity and Capacity Building aims to promote interprofessional, inter-sectoral learning and research in dementia care. It will link aged care education and research structures with the creative arts and human services disciplines. The collaborative project will include a practicum component to be trialled at two RSL Care sites, and will explore facilitator experiences and exploration of graduate/transition expectations.
The project will establish and evaluate a pilot Collaborative Learning Action Network (CLAN) with a focus on evidenced-based practice, active learning and research translation into practice and policy. It will establish an Aged Care Advisory Group to provide collaboration on curriculum review for the existing BN (Aged Care) and explore postgraduate / professional development options. Membership will include experienced clinicians and aged care managers from across residential, community and acute care sectors. A collaborative working group will be established to develop and evaluate a quality clinical placement program for BN (Aged Care) students across community and residential care.
ContactMs Anne Loupis - Project Manager for TRACS
Consortium MembersUniversity of New South Wales, Catholic Healthcare
The Real Cases, Real Time TRACS model offers case-based learning via videoconferencing for aged care employees in multiple, remote localities. Interactive learning opportunities are available for two streams of trainees: staff with tertiary qualifications and professional registration (Registered Nurses, GPs and allied health) and front-line care workers (Assistants in Nursing (AINs), specialist dementia care workers and community care workers).
This project is focussed on a professional development model, particularly, improvement of work practices through case method discussions, involving real cases. Topic areas for training were identified in consultation with staff through individual annual development meetings, focus groups and team meetings. HammondCare specialists prepared the curriculum and external experts are involved in its delivery, and support interactive sessions. UNSW will undertake an external evaluation of the training program.
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ContactDr Leander Mitchell - Clinical Neuropsychologist
Consortium MembersMasonic Care QLD, Churches of Christ Care, James Cook University
The Community of Interdisciplinary Practice for People with Dementia project will develop a professional education model with a practicum component to upskill graduate health professionals in dementia care and management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). A total of 40 clinical supervision interns comprising nursing, occupational therapy and psychology graduates are expected to be trained with the participants having also supervised 40 undergraduate health professional students from participating universities.
It seeks to facilitate: graduate-level, interprofessional training in clinical supervision; implementation of sound, coordinated multidisciplinary management strategies for people with BPSD; ongoing supervision of health professional students by aged care employees; and a practicum component held onsite at an aged care facility. Action research is to be undertaken to capture: outcomes measures of participant knowledge of BPSDs, comfort with the level of engagement and comfort with interprofessional learning experience, experience of partnering RACF employees, effectiveness of the use of an iPhone application focussed on BPSD recognition and impact on clinical care.
ContactMr Simon Pavelic - Project Manager EBPAC & TRACS
Consortium MembersUniversity of Adelaide, TAFE SA
The Preparing an Aged Care Workforce: Building the Model for Teaching and Research in Aged Care project involves a skills audit for Resthaven staff particularly in the areas of clinical mentoring, supervision and education in community and residential settings. The overall training strategy will be reviewed on the basis of the skills audit and a clinical supervision structure developed. The skills audit will inform the development of on-site and off-site curriculum delivery and placement structures, in collaboration with education and training partners. Resthaven staff will provide input into curriculum development and participate in aged care research.
The model has a focus on professional development and clinical placements, and will support training in nursing, medical and allied health disciplines. It will facilitate access to Diploma in Nursing, certificate level courses in aged care and traineeships. Aged care staff will ‘mentor’ students on clinical placements, provide input into, and review curriculum development, and will be invited as speakers to ensure students have work-ready competencies.
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ContactMs Carrie Spinks - TRACS Project Coordinator
Consortium MembersAustralian Catholic University
The RSL Research and Practice Development will support training of staff in metropolitan, rural and regional services through video-conferencing. Staff will participate in practice-driven research. Training and career enhancement activities will be available for nurses, care workers and general services staff in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and diversional therapy. Curriculum/courses will be developed in aged care/gerontology, aged care leadership/management and mental health.
RSL staff will undertake Cert IV training in Training and Assessment to provide them with necessary qualifications to train participants. Educators will be available at both the RN and carer levels across the services. Staff with specialist skills in palliative care, wound management, dementia care and clinical care will teach/help translate research outcomes. Training will be repetitive to ensure new practices are embedded in day-to-day care delivery. Clinical trainers will be supported by the Professor of Ageing. The model will eliminate traditional block placements to enable students to roster themselves onto available shifts on clinical wards. This would double the clinical placement capacity from 24 weeks.
ContactMs Karen Marsh - TRACS and Special Projects Manager
Consortium MembersThe Centre for Continuing Education Inc.
The St Johns & The Centre TRACS Community Partnership project will explore in detail a community-based, regional approach to workforce development in aged care. The focus is on skill development/career pathways of existing staff and developing new partnerships with tertiary providers. Onsite training will be provided as far as possible. ICT options will be developed to provide online learning functionality to ensure flexible learning options.
This project will support St Johns staff to progress through Certificate III in Aged Care to Bachelor of Nursing qualifications. The project will assist existing employees with career pathways/higher qualifications in aged care or nursing. A core training team will complete the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment to develop and deliver a workplace training program. Development of a nursing stream through workplace learning and collaboration with local universities is a key objective of this project.
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ContactMs Annaliese Blair - Clinical Research Officer
Consortium MembersAustralian National University, Goodwin Aged Care Services Ltd
The Model for Psychologists Working in Residential Care project will provide a model that integrates the skills of clinical psychologists into residential aged care facilities, and provides opportunities for training the future psychology workforce which has the skills to work in multidisciplinary teams to treat complex presentations in old age.
The project will, in consultation with the aged care and academic sectors, further develop the role of a clinical psychologist in the residential aged care sector and train post-graduate clinical psychology students in residential aged care setting. The model will also provide training and assistance translating research into practice for management, nursing, care, diversional therapy and allied health staff. The model has a multi-disciplinary focus.
ContactMs Rosie Bonnin - TRACS Centre Coordinator
Consortium MembersResthaven Inc.
The University of Adelaide Specialised Care for Older People Teaching and Research project seeks to increase undergraduate medical student placements in aged care. The project is based at the new Adelaide Geriatric Training and Research with Aged care Centre- G-TRAC, at the Resthaven Paradise Aged Care Campus. Medical registrars and students in senior years will be trained in aged care settings. This project is supported by involvement of geriatricians, GPs and medical registrars. The TRACS centre is affiliated with the specialist geriatrician service of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Central Adelaide Local Health Network. The project is supported by collaboration with Alzheimer’s Australia, public health, rehabilitation, mental health services and palliative care services (sub-acute services).
The project aims to develop and deliver seminars (i.e. continuing education) for multi-disciplinary aged care and primary health care clinicians (including nursing, allied health, pharmacy and general practitioners); staff employed at remote areas will be able to access training via recorded seminar series; provide research advice to and partner with aged care staff in research; and encourage relevant research activity such as improving nutrition or pain management.
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ContactDr Laurie Grealish - Project Leader of Cooperative for Health Ageing Research and Teaching (CHART)
Consortium MembersCalvary Retirement Community Canberra, IRT Kangara Waters, Goodwin Aged Care Services, the Salvation Army Aged Care Plus, Banksia Village, ACT Health Directorate, Canberra Institute of Technology, Key2learning, Healthcare Consumer Association, Alzheimer's Australia.
The Cooperative Healthy Ageing Research and Teaching Service project will extend the existing Student Nurse Led Ward model to other health disciplines. A seminar series on ageing will be developed and delivered by clinicians through an interactive online learning platform, which is to be extended to aged care facilities in metropolitan, rural and regional centres. Clinical areas include dementia, palliative care, primary health care and transition between health sectors.
As part of the project, two national forums will be held by the University to promote collaboration between the aged care and education/training sectors. Research projects under the TRACS model include: service needs for people with dementia in rural NSW, dietetics – investigation of the dietetics service and student competence development in dietetics; falls intervention; and effectiveness of student-led primary health service designed for older persons.
ContactMs Susan Gilbert-Hunt - TRACS Project Manager
Consortium MembersHelping Hand Aged Care, Mary Mackillop Care SA, Eldercare Incorporated, Clayton Church Homes, TAFE SA Adelaide North, TAFE SA Regional, Aged and Community Services SA/NT
The Education, Training and Research in Aged Care: Pathway Development and Promulgation of a Student Placement Model will expand existing activities to develop dedicated teaching units in nursing and allied health for university and vocational education and training students. Training model will include students from the VET sector and the promulgation of the placement-learning model by customising and trialling the model across the aged care services.
The project provides for learning opportunities at multiple levels both formally and informally. Examples of the type of learning that includes participation in training workshops, online learning modules, mentoring arrangements, induction/orientation workshops, online learning modules, placement experiences and assessment tasks and reflective activities.
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ContactDr Clint Moloney - Nursing Lecturer
Consortium MembersAnglicare Southern Queensland
The Continuing Professional Development for the Anglicare Person-Centred Model of Care project will consider the extent to which current corporate and clinical governance standards compare to published international best practice standards. Integrated risk management and clinical care audits will assist with the prioritisation of six research utilisation projects that work towards improved patient care standards. Early succession planning will see six key Anglicare staff attend the Joanna Briggs Institute Research Fellowship program. Participants will develop skills in research utilisation including staff audit compliance and measurement of patient outcomes. Through participation in this program and to ensure sustainability of project outcomes Anglicare will become a registered research utilisation group with the Joanna Briggs Institute.
Also stemming from the integrated risk management and clinical care audits will be a structured multidisciplinary curriculum design inclusive of succession planning pathways. Multidisciplinary staff will be offered training on major issues stemming from risk prioritisation. Education will be inclusive of the use of select assistive technology via distance learning and organisational leadership. These will be supported through intensive workshops. Anglicare staff will benefit from an improved continuing professional development curriculum, redesigned roles supporting extended scopes of practice, ongoing exposure to assistive technologies, and the growth of internal expertise in evidence based practice, research utilisation, and leadership. As a final outcome the project will deliver a comprehensive research register based on risk prioritisation and the emergence of Anglicare as a recognised research utilisation centre.
ContactProfessor Andrew Robinson - Co-Director, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, Associate Dean (Research) at Faculty of Health Sciences
Consortium MembersCatholic Homes (Hawthorn Vic), Uniting Church Homes (Rowethorpe), Southern Cross Care Inc (TAS), Mount St Vincent, Australian Catholic University, Curtin University.
The Wicking Teaching Aged Care Facility (TACF) Program will extend the existing prototype Wicking Teaching Aged Care Facility project to a tripartite collaboration involving the University of Tasmania (Tasmania), Australian Catholic University (Victoria) and Curtin University (Western Australia). The universities will work in collaboration with local aged care services to support: a regional/rural node involving partnership between the University of Tasmania, Southern Cross Care Tasmania and Mount St Vincent Nursing Home - a standalone rural service; an urban node involving the Australian Catholic University and Catholic Homes; and another urban node involving partnership between Curtin and Juniper Rowethorpe (Uniting Care).
Implementing the Wicking TACF program involves a five stage process to drive both organizational and clinical change. This includes an : (i) evaluation of organisational culture and leadership capability, and design and implementation of systems and processes to both support students’ professional education and drive a high performance culture across the organisations; and (ii) Implementation of a program of quality inter-professional aged care clinical placements to facilitate students to develop their knowledge of dementia/palliation and a more positive attitude to working in aged care.
ContactProfessor Richard Fleming - Director of NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre
Consortium MembersIllawarra Retirement Trust
The IRTrac project provides a framework for bringing together joint research programs between the University and IRT College in aged care, and will enhance the capacity to provide training in nursing, psychology, exercise physiology and dietetics disciplines.
The project will provide an opportunity to extend the current clinical placement program to include dietetics, exercise physiology and psychology students. It will also provide professional development opportunities for aged care staff in the areas of clinical leadership education, gerontology and dementia care. The project will establish a joint research program including research training for aged care staff, and develop a learning community involving the university staff, IRT staff, external trainers, and IRT residents as both teachers and learners.
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Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre (WISeR)
Evaluation TeamDr Kate Barnett - Deputy Director, WISeR
Dr Ann-Louise Hordacre - Senior Research Fellow, WISeR
Ms Cecilia Moretti - Research Fellow, WISeR
Dr Sara Howard - Research Fellow, WISeR
Associate Professor John Spoehr - Executive Director, WISeR
WISeR has been engaged as the national evaluator for the Teaching and Research Aged Care Services (TRACS) projects. WISeR will undertake a formative evaluation of the funded models. The evaluation process will be based on an action research model that involves an iterative process of: initial reflection, planning, action, observation and reflection. The evaluation will use a program logic approach to identify the hierarchy of inputs, outputs, outcomes and impact of the projects.
As part of this project, WISeR will:
- develop an evaluation framework to:
- study the models funded under the TRACS initiative; and
- promote a culture change within the aged care sector to ensure a learning environment for students and staff.
- developing formal affiliations between the aged care sector and academic/training sectors;
- developing strategies, processes and infrastructure to support teaching, learning and research activities on site;
- providing education and training to multidisciplinary teams in various aged care settings;
- ensuring good quality clinical supervision and mentoring for students;
- improving staff capacity to participate in teaching, learning and research;
- creating synergies between education, training, research, clinical care and service delivery to deliver benefits to staff, students and care recipients;
- creating linkages between the aged care sector and acute/primary care sectors to ensure well rounded clinical education in aged care;
- accessing funding from a range of complementary funding sources to support teaching, learning and research activities within the aged care sector;
- ·promoting research into areas of practical concern identified by aged care staff; and
- practical application of research outcomes to improve day-to-day practices.
Findings arising from the evaluation process will be shared widely to inform current and future developments in this area. A final report is expected to be available in late 2014.
Related evaluations and reportsBarnett K, Abbey J & Eyre J Implementing the Teaching Nursing Homes Initiative: Scoping Study - Final Report (March 2011)
Barnett K, Abbey J & Eyre J (2011) Bridging Education, Research and Clinical Care – the Teaching Nursing Home: Discussion Paper, Australian Institute for Social Research, The University of Adelaide (2010)
(Note: The Teaching Nursing Homes Initiative became the Teaching and Research Aged Care Services (TRACS)).
e-health and aged care
TelehealthFor information on Medicare and DVA rebates for telehealth services provided to aged care facilities and eligible Aboriginal Medical Services throughout Australia go to: MBS Online.
eHealthFive residential aged care facilities in Tasmania’s Cradle Coast project are deploying eHealth specifications and standards in real-life settings. The project targets aged and palliative care patients and their families, palliative care medical specialists and clinical nurse consultants.
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is establishing a panel of aged care system vendors who will enter into an agreement with NEHTA to participate in a collaborative development process to deliver aged care systems for implementation in this program.Top of page