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Teaching the care of older people in Australian nursing schools: Survey findings

      Abstract

      Background

      Meeting the complex health needs of an increasing number of older people is a critical workforce challenge for the Australian health and aged care sectors. Nurses are the largest group of registered health care professionals and fundamental to delivering health and aged care in Australia. However, while nursing students encounter increasing numbers of older people in all health and aged care settings, little is known about how they are educationally prepared to care for them.

      Aim

      To investigate the curriculum content and method of teaching the care of older people in Australian Bachelor of Nursing degrees.

      Methods

      A population sample of all Australian nursing schools offering Bachelor of Nursing degrees. Nurse academics involved in subject coordination or curriculum development were recruited. A telephone-assisted survey explored ‘the care of older people’ in Australian undergraduate nursing curricula. Descriptive statistical analyses were undertaken.

      Results

      The response rate was 100%. Curricula were acute care focused with content specific to the care of older people scaffolded across curricula. A variety of teaching and learning methods were reported. Clinical experiences with older people occurred in residential aged care settings, generally in the first year of the degree.

      Conclusions

      Preparation of pre-registration nurses for the care of older people requires improvement in curricula content and clinical experience to equip graduates to provide safe, person-centred care that meets the needs of older Australians.

      Keywords

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