Considering a student placement in an aged care setting?
Before offering a student placement, it is important to be aware of the potential benefits and challenges associated with placements in aged care settings, and ensure adequate planning and preparation occurs to overcome the challenges identified.
Cited benefits of aged care student clinical placements include:
- Creating a two-way learning opportunity where contemporary theories taught at universities compliment the established allied health practice in the aged care setting.
- Improving students’ knowledge relating to aged-related decline and pathologies (for example: sensory changes, delirium, dementia, palliation, common drug reactions, manual handling, provision of mobility aids, the ability to deal with multiple pathologies in one person and pain management) as the theory which was learned at university “comes to life” in an authentic setting.
- Improving in the development of students’ communication skills, particularly with older people.
- Increasing the students’ capacity to work with older people.
- Improving students’ understanding of aged care settings.
- With suitable planning, aged care settings may provide sufficient learning opportunities to demonstrate case management and clinical competencies typically assessed in an acute care setting.
As students will ultimately become the future health workforce, the benefits observed from placement will lead to long term benefits for the respective professions.
Challenges associated with hosting students in aged care clinical placements include:
- Ensuring students understand that clinical placements in aged care are a valuable learning experience that allow demonstration of clinical competence.
- Preparing and planning for the placement to ensure that there is adequate depth and breadth of learning experiences.
- Preparing and planning for the placement to ensure that placement supervision models are implemented, and students and supervisors are aware of the expectations of clinical supervision (This is particularly important when interprofessional supervision is utilised and/or when the supervisor does not work full time at/in the aged care setting for example, when they attend the service on an ‘as needed’ basis).
- Ensuring that supervisors have adequate workload adjustment to ensure appropriate supervision is provided.
- Managing student learning and exposure to death and dying.
The Interprofessional Education in Aged Care (IPEAC) tool kit is a useful resource that allows those working in aged care settings to:
- Identify how to ‘get started’ by connecting with tertiary education providers
- Establish an aged care student placement – planning, orientation, learning opportunities
- Evaluate process and placement, and resources to support various health professions
Allied Health Professions of Australia has a resource that outlines the various allied health professional roles and responsibilities in optimising function and independence in older people
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