Care of the Older Person

It has been identified that health care for the older population (persons over the age of 65) is unique and specific. This has resulted in the acknowledgement that the older person has different health care needs, issues and concerns, requiring a nursing workforce that appreciates and recognises these differences, and has the knowledge and skill to manage them appropriately.

In Australia (2017) data show that 15% (3.7 million) of Australians are currently over the age of 65, with a projected growth to 22% (8.7 million) by 20561. As part of an initiative to revamp the Transition to Practice program for our 2018 Graduate nurses, Beaufort Skipton Health Service, in collaboration with Ballarat Health Services, will be launching a new project that will fulfil graduate nurse’s first year requirements whilst incorporating a focus on caring for the older generation. The Care Of the Older Person program will look at the specific health care needs of this population and how we can meet these as part of a holistic person centred approach to care. This program will enable our graduates to begin down the road to expert aged care specialists. The aim is to promote a future expert workforce that will be holistic in the care of these patients, residents and their families, with an ongoing plan to provide access to the program throughout the region.

The program will run as a pilot with 12 participants from the 2 health services and has the support of DHHS. These graduate nurses will be given opportunity to learn from some industry specialists and will focus on areas such as palliative care; leadership; physiological, sociological and psychological changes; health promotion and community services. They will undertake 5 specialist study days and will be expected to complete additional course work. These subjects will be recognised as evidence of prior learning, thus enabling the participants to move seamlessly onto a post graduate qualification in nursing. At the completion of the year, the course will be evaluated and improved to ensure sustainability, relevance and quality best evidence based practice.

We aspire to promote the care of the older person as more than just incorporating aged care facilities, with the idea that these clients play a prominent role in the majority of heath care specialities and settings. To be able to manage the special needs of these clients will lead to better health outcomes for the person and greater job satisfaction for our nursing workforce.

1. Source: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-statistics/population-groups/older-people/overview