Helping Hand finds a way to meet increased nursing demands
Helping Hand has partnered with ACCPA to attract 12 Registered Nurses into an RN Graduate program that will help them transition to the sector.
Aged Care is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia but with severe staff shortages and significant reform post Royal Commission, there is increasing pressure on services to attract and retain staff.
Helping Hand has partnered with ACCPA, the national industry association for aged care providers, and successfully attracted 12 Registered Nurses into a program that will help them transition to the sector.
ACCPA offers an innovative 12-month Aged Care Nurse Transition to Practice Program to provide guidance to graduate registered nurses in their first year of clinical practice through mentorship, on-line professional development sessions presented by expert clinicians, and portfolio development.
Helping Hand has bolstered that offering by providing two-years of engagement (for additional employment security), localised learning (with a commitment to turn theory into practice), and the opportunity to specialise in an area of choice (during the second year). The level of support offered (including open access to mentors and clinical educators) has been a huge drawcard.
Megha Boban came to Australia in 2020, from India. She completed a Bachelor of Nursing in Toowoomba before moving to Adelaide to be closer to family. She learnt about Helping Hand and aged care via a friend who was working for the Lightsview care home.
Keen to work with the elderly and assured that the staff are both friendly and supportive, Megha successfully applied. She’s stationed in North Adelaide and recently had her first ‘floor’ shift, allocated to the Memory Support Unit. Fascinated by dementia and cognitive impairment, she said it felt like the best place to be learning about it – especially given the support of staff who ‘really are a helping hand’.
The program ACCPA runs includes professional development sessions delivered by an industry expert. Helping Hand reinforces this learning, turning theory into practice every week, by teaming graduates with staff who have relevant expertise and who can demonstrate the knowledge in action. This develops an all-important community of practice.
This practical element was very important to graduate Molly Han. She came to Australia from China and did a Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) in Sydney before moving to Adelaide, keen to work in a more hands-on capacity with patients and people. She undertook a Master of Clinical Nursing at The University of Adelaide in 2022.
She was delighted to discover Helping Hand’s program. Molly (stationed at Ingle Farm) is grateful she gets to apply theory before she is ‘suddenly on the floor’. She says it ‘makes her feel much more confident to work’.
Helping Hand supports its graduates to develop core skills in their area of interest – wound management, dementia and palliative care, for example – so they can specialise in their second year. This also enables them to work towards becoming subject matter experts which will benefit residents, clients and workforce alike.
Megha is already excited about her second year, believing it will allow her to look back over her achievements and assess how far she’s come. A keen and competent researcher about dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) she intends on pursuing this as her special interest. Molly is very interested in palliative care but wants to wait and see how things evolve.
Helping Hand CEO, Chris Stewart, is buoyed by the enthusiasm of these graduates. Given ongoing industry shortages and competition with the acute sector to attract nurses, he says aged care is consistently trying different models of attraction and retention.
‘With the requirement for 24/7 Registered Nurses coming in on 1 July 2023, and a mandated 200 minutes of care per day from October this year, the demand for staff is set to further increase. By partnering on this program, we have attracted one third of the number of new Registered Nurses we need to welcome into our workforce to meet the new RN requirements.
‘We are keen to see graduates become confident, safe, competent, and professional practitioners who choose to stay working within the sector. Our two-year offering reflects our dedication to ensuring a pathway from study to practice that’s both stimulating and supported.’
Students who are interested in this sector are encouraged to register their interest for next year’s intake via the Student Opportunities page on our website. We assure you, there are plenty of opportunities and a lot of personal reward.
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