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Myths about aged care nurses busted

It’s commonly thought that working as an aged care nurse comes with certain stereotypes.

While some say it’s the end of a career, others believe helping people age is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

Envigor Home Care executive manager Tracey Silvester told Nursing Review the perception is that, because it's a choice you make towards the end of your working life, it’s not a legitimate career choice. However, given the ageing population, nurses may need to rethink their career trajectory.

“Anybody who thinks that they’ll be able to work as a nurse and won't look after older people at one point in their career, they’re not up with the times in terms of what our population demographic looks like,” Silvester said.

She added that the perception that working in aged care means losing valuable nursing skills is a misnomer often made up by people who have never worked in aged care.

“Having said that, I think nurses are their own worst enemy. Perhaps working in aged care has historically been seen as the job you do before you retire … and maybe that’s where some of those perceptions come from.”

She said when she recruits nurses, their clinical skills are just as good, if not better than nurses working in hospitals, as you need to be very confident of your own decision making.

“You’re often the only nurse available, particularly in a community care setting where you're visiting people in their homes – you wouldn't have a nurse or doctor around that you can call on for advice.

“You need to be very confident and capable, you need to assess people because you need to make decisions – so for nurses looking for autonomous practice, working in aged care can provide that," she said.

In the company’s blog, Silvester said aged care is one area of nursing that will continue to grow as Australia’s population ages over the next 20 to 30 years. Currently, more than 170,000 people live in aged care homes, most with one or more chronic conditions such as pain, dementia and depression.

She said aged cared nurses need to have an immense amount of knowledge across a multitude of areas.

“As an aged care nurse, you are going to be dealing with a large number of elderly people, all of whom are likely to have at least one chronic condition. You need to have a vast, comprehensive knowledge of everything to enable you to provide holistic care,” the blog read.

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  1. Unfortunately there is still an apathy towards Aged Care Nursing. As an Aged Care Provider, we often have RN students on placement with us. On many occasions, the students have told us they were worried about an Aged Care placement as talk around the campus, including from lecturers was that Aged Care was indeed the “last stop” in their career.
    I find this very frustrating, misleading and also damaging to providers who are already combating the waves of negative media, and regulators who continually pay lip service to the REAL needs of providers and older Australians.
    Nurses, both EN and RN play pivotal roles in the day to day care of residents. Many residents have complex needs and nurses are front and centre in conjunction with a multidisciplinary team in creating and managing a care pathway for each person.
    Clinical decision making must be of a very high standard. In addition, our nurses love the fact they get to know their “patients” (residents) many over years of care. Ask an Aged Care nurse if they think caring for a person over the entire course of their journey in Aged Care, and the love and thanks they receive from family members is the most rewarding part of their career, you will hear a resounding YES!!
    Commentators need to stop making comments which are ill informed, out-dated or based on nothing more than a prejudice towards a part of the Health Care industry which is just as important as any other…

  2. As a lecturer I am astounded another person in the field would say that. Aged care needs staff with the best assessment skills in the industry. Students should be encouraged to make a decision with an open mind after placement within aged care and time with people who really love their work.

  3. Hi , I actually began my nursing career in an Aged Care hostel and from there I progressed into medical/surgical nursing. I believe it is a very good and practical beginning to nursing and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to start nursing from any other area. I learnt invaluable and essential nursing skills which have stayed with me and put me in good stead for my nursing career . Assessing patient mobility for instance when attending appropriately to the patients hygiene depends on an accurate assessment of their mobility. Can they sit up? Can they stand? How will I get them to the bathroom? The vast majority of patients I nursed in hospital were elderly. Aged Care is the perfect setting to learn ‘basic ‘ (essential) nursing Care.

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