This one’s for the nurses

By John Connole
Thursday, 08 November, 2012


Five was the magic number for two Lutheran Community Care aged care services where nursing staff recently traded places to an acute setting and university students kicked-off their first year nursing placement at Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. Lara Caughey reports.


Five nurses from Salem donned different hats leaving the aged care sector behind to temporarily work as rostered staff at St Vincent’s Hospital’s acute ward.


The three nurses from Northridge Salem and two from Salem embarked on 40 shifts in the Toowoomba-based private hospital to gain hands-on clinical experience.


The first 10 shifts were supernumerary (not part of the workforce but perceived as engaged in a mentoring relationship) after which each nurse managed their own case load of six patients.


Salem’s General Manager Terry Arthur, who kicked off the program in June 2010, is a great believer in ongoing education and up-skilling employees.


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


“It has consolidated the fact that the acute staff have a busy and intense workload with a rapid turnover of patients treating the illness and administering clinical procedures in a fast pace environment.


“In contrast, aged care staff have excellent basic clinical skills, look at all the underlying facets which affect the aged care patients and deliver optimal holistic care.


“This partnership with St Vincent’s Hospital has greatly enhanced the relationship and understanding between the two facilities.”


St Vincent’s Hospital received two awards because of this Clinical Partnership Program (the Private Hospital Innovation Award and Catholic Hospital Initiative Award).


Salem Northridge Director of Nursing, Maxine Noone, said the program gave participants great insight into how the other half live.


“The registered nurses were exposed to clinical skills such as preparing intravenous infusion, managing IV pumps, administering IV antibiotics and ECG monitoring,” she said.


“St Vincent’s Hospital were very trusting of our staff and allowed them to gain valuable experience in an unobtrusive manner.


“The unit manager commented favourably how adept our staff were in delivering optimal care.”


Northridge Salem’s registered nurse, Pat Woldt, has not been in an acute setting for 25 years and she said the experience was invaluable.


“It was challenging, very informative and it increased my thirst for knowledge,” she said.


“It gave me a clear understanding of acute staffing and also how our relationships with residents and families are more intense than in the acute setting.”


Noone said they hoped to continue the program and encouraged more staff to get involved.


“It has consolidated the fact aged care is where they want to be and not in the acute setting,” she said.


“We’re now considering having St Vincent’s participants coming over to Northridge and Salem as part of their graduate program.”


First-year nursing students discover the joys of aged care


Five University of Sunshine Coast students gained hands-on experience in an aged care placement program at Immanuel Gardens in Buderim as part of the Bachelor of Nursing degree.


Immanuel Gardens Director of Nursing, Rae Stokes, said the first-year students kicked many goals during their five week placement.


"What stood out about the interns were their manners, their impeccable dress sense and how they approach each task as a professional,” she said.


“This placement prepared students for the real world through carrying out a variety of hands-on duties.


“It’s opened the students’ eyes to what aged care is really about as many of them haven’t worked in this type of environment before.”


The students have enjoyed their time at Immanuel Gardens. Ninderry resident Tess Murphy, 46, said she was really impressed with the level of care provided to residents at Immanuel Gardens.


“The staff are really caring and look after the residents really well,” she said.


“Aged care nursing is a good job and I like that you get to know the residents and have more of a relationship with them as opposed to a hospital where the turnover is higher.”


Mooloolaba resident Rebecca Johnston, 23, said she learnt fundamental skills about her chosen profession.


“I've learnt a holistic approach that when you look after a person you need to look at all levels of care and not parts of it,” she said.


“I've been showering, taking care of feeds and learning about medications and wound care.”


Landsborough resident Kara Brien, 19, said she loved Immanuel Gardens.


“I like the friendly atmosphere, the residents and it is peaceful here,” she said.


Immanuel Gardens General Manager, Steve Stacey, was pleased with the second cohort of nursing students for 2011.


“I feel pleased to work in partnership with the local university to provide work placement opportunities for students to gain valuable practical experience,” he said.


“It is encouraging to see these students who have already shown their enthusiasm, commitment and passion for a career in nursing.”


University of the Sunshine Coast’s Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Eleanor Horton, said the Bachelor of Nursing program curriculum emphasises the importance of clinical placements enabling students to establish relationships in a real working environment.


“The University of the Sunshine Coast currently has a strong partnership with Immanuel Gardens and appreciates the model of care that the facility enables the students to experience,” she said.


“For example, they can experience healthy ageing in a retirement village, in supported accommodation, through to those residents who require the meeting of high care needs.”


University of Sunshine Coast Facilitator for Nursing, Gea Vaughan-Johnson, said the relationship between Immanuel Gardens and the nursing industry was vital for driving students’ careers forward.


“Forming relationships with people is what nursing is all about,” she said.


“Immanuel Gardens has given students the time to explore the things they like doing during their two days of practicum.


“They learn about medication, wound care, the role of allied health professionals, eating, socialising and mobility so when they get into an acute setting they have gained knowledge and a good bank of skills.


“It teaches them compassion, a holistic approach to care and an understanding of the different lifestyles available to the older person.”


Visit www.lccqld.org.au for more information about the programs offered by Lutheran Community Care.

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