How do we meet the enormous need for aged care nurses?

Aged Care is a growing industry, as Australia reaches its peak in the aging population, we must ensure we have a large workforce of qualified and experienced Aged Care professionals.  

From lifestyle coordinators to personal care workers, there just aren’t enough people right now to match the demand for aged care services. 

aged care staff chatting

However, perhaps most concerning of all, is the shortage in aged care nursing staff – not just now, but into the future. 

Nursing shortages in the aged care sector are projected to increase significantly over the next few years. By 2025, there is expected to be a shortfall of about 85,000 to 100,000 nurses in aged care.  

 

But as we bring more nurses into the aged care environment, we must ensure we are properly inducting and training the graduates to create a diverse and educated workforce to lead Aged Care into the future.  

 

As members of the aged care community, we want the care of parents, grandparents, friends, brothers and sisters to be at its absolute best and that means training and retaining the best possible nursing talent. And so, to do this, the ASPIRE program was born. 

 

In Sept 2021 Queensland’s 13 SVCS Facility Mangers were asked to nominate existing graduate nurses for the ASPIRE program and to include the program as a professional development opportunity in their recruitment discussions with graduates. 


Nicole Devlin, Interim Executive General Manager of Service Delivery at St Vincent’s, led the project. 


“I’m passionate about empowering people through education and development opportunities like ASPIRE. It’s important as experienced career health professionals, that we remember our own experience of what it was like to be learning and to be a new graduate. 

Over the 12-month program graduates covered a range of topics including clinical governance framework, site safety, quality standards, lifestyle, customer service and more importantly, they had time to debrief with their mentor and discuss topics / problems that were specific to their experience.  

They were rotated across different facilities and shifts based on patient and clinical need over a 24/7 timeframe. 


“It’s wonderful to see some of these graduates who were so well mentored and supported that they had the confidence to put their hand up to go and work at other aged care facilities in other states that needed support during various COVID-19 lockdowns,” Nicole says. 


What’s even more encouraging, is the results: 


  • 100% of program participants agreed or strongly agreed that the program had helped them better understand the role of a RN in aged care 

  • 100% of program participants agreed or strongly agreed that they understood the Aged Care and Quality Standards and how they applied to their role 

  • 85% of program participants were confident or very confident they could record all important information in a resident’s assessments and care plan.


“I was honoured to be chosen to participate in the ASPIRE Program and have found the education to be beneficial to my role as a nurse. I really enjoyed meeting fellow nurses, sharing experiences and problem-solving roadblocks we encounter as grad nurses. Thank you for this opportunity.” 

- Samantha Jones, Graduate Nurse SVCS Gympie

 
“I think this program is a great support system for any new grads and I will always be committed to nominating new grads at Carina to take part in this.” 

- Sharon Johnson, Facility Manager SVCS Carina.

 

The program has been so successful it is now being rolled out to SVCS sites in NSW and Victoria from the end of August 2022.  

The first cohort will then step up and buddy up with new graduates to orient them and share their program experiences. 


Programs like ASPIRE aren’t just about St Vincent’s. They’re about finding and retaining genuinely talented nursing staff to make sure our parents, grandparents, friends, brothers, sisters all get the care they need and deserve as they grow older. 

While we’re only a small part of that, the roles we play in providing young nursing staff with strong habits will not only benefit aged care, but wherever they decide to work in healthcare at large. 

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