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Graduate nurses headed for careers in aged care

The Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) has launched a new graduate program to attract more registered nurses into residential care facilities.

Since its launch in November, over 75 nursing graduates have participated in the Aged Care Transition to Nursing Program, with ten registered nurses joining the program for six months in other areas.

ACCPA chief Tom Symondson said the program has recorded promising results.

“There is a critical shortage of RNs in aged care, so every one of our graduates lights the way for others to follow,” Symondson said.

“With the number of people requiring aged care set to double by 2050, we as a sector need to encourage more nurses to take that step and enter the sector

In 2021, Australia employed 286,149 registered nurses, 54,193 enrolled nurses, and 20,990 dual-registration nurses.

Federal data estimates that just under 40,000 nurses currently work in aged care.

Research suggests that by 2050, Australia will need over 200,000 RNs employed in the sector.

One factor contributing to the increasing need for RN in aged care is Australia’s ageing population, where men live on average 81 years and women 85.

Since 1999, the average life expectancy rose for men by nearly 10 per cent and for women by 6 per cent.

Research also anticipates a dramatic increase in dementia cases where RNs need to be present in administering medication and providing high-level care.

While there are currently over 400,000 Australians living with dementia, it’s estimated that in 35 years, that number will grow to 800,000.

“Australians are living longer and well beyond their retirement years,” Symondson said.

“Research to better understand dementia is critical as it will improve the lives of those older people who will need support either at home or in residential care at some time in their lives.

“We welcome all the nurses who decide to stay in the sector and continue to support vulnerable older Australians – for now and in the future.”

Bronwyn Doyle, National Team Leader for ACCPA’s program, said the program supports aged care nurses to start their careers in the sector with confidence.

“Nurses in aged care and community care have the privilege of building strong relationships with older people and supporting quality of life to the end,” Doyle said.

“Working in aged care creates a sense of personal fulfilment that is difficult to find elsewhere.”

The program started enrolling a new intake of graduate nurses earlier in February and expects to open up places for another batch in August 2023.

ACCPA is also working with aged care providers to ‘make the aged care sector an employer of choice.’

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