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Building nursing capacity in the bush

ACCPA Nursing Transition to Practice program filling a gap

Attracting and retaining sufficient nurses to provide adequate aged care services for residents of rural and remote areas is a significant issue in the sector.

With one in four Australians in the aged care target population living in rural or remote communities (GEN Aged Care Data 2019-20), the current shortage of nurses can threaten the access these communities have to adequate aged care services.

Tailored support including mentorship and professional development programs can help improve retention rates of nursing staff in rural areas – and the Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) is working hard to fill the gap, through the Nursing Transition to Practice Program.

Running nationally since February 2022, the program is proving an important way rural and remote providers can leverage their ability to attract, retain and upskill their nursing workforce – with specific training in aged care for newly graduated registered nurses or enrolled nurses in their first two years of work, as well as registered nurses with prior experience who are new to the sector.

By supporting organisations, providing professional development opportunities and nursing mentorship, the program is helping providers overcome some of the barriers to recruitment and retention of aged care nurses in rural areas while building capacity in Australia’s fastest growing industry.

Registered Nurse Amber Ferguson is enrolled in the ACCPA Nursing Transition to Practice program through her employer Quirindi Care Services, which operates in regional New South Wales.

Quirindi is a small town with a population of 2,602 (at the time of the 2021 census), located approximately 45 minutes south of Tamworth and four hours north of Sydney – and is an example of the small communities spread across Australia that are in dire need of skilled aged care nurses.

Quirindi Care Services was able to secure Amber by supporting her career progression through seamlessly transitioning from her role as a member of care staff to a registered nurse after completing her qualifications while working part-time.

The aged care provider supported Amber with her career goals, providing study leave while undertaking her Bachelor of Nursing. “My manager and colleagues were understanding and flexible and this contributed to me being able to complete my studies, graduate and then transition to the role of Registered Nurse,” said Amber. “It is very reassuring that not only am I supported in my workplace but also externally by ACCPA.

“The weekly professional development sessions are fantastic as they deliver information specific to the aged care sector, presented by knowledgeable professionals.

“The topics covered are based on everything we deal with in the aged care sector, and the sessions are also recorded so you can access the information at any time.

“This makes the content very relatable and achievable, and makes it easy for me to apply the learning in my role.”

Kim Riley, General Manager and Quirindi Care Services says the ACCPA Nursing Transition to Practice program has reinforced and embedded Amber’s knowledge and helped build her confidence as a registered nurse. “Amber is an integral and determined member of our team who continues to excel in her role, while playing a mentor role and providing ongoing support to her colleagues. “This program is a win for everyone involved – for our nursing staff, our clients and our rural community.”

Amber will endeavour to complete further study in dementia and palliative care as she continues her learning journey in a challenging but rewarding career.

Alexandra Harrison, Marketing & Communications Advisor (Programs),  ACCPA

accpa.asn.au/nursing

ACCPA-Aged-Care-Today-Magazine-Winter-2024-amber
Registered Nurse Amber Ferguson is enrolled in the ACCPA Nursing Transition to Practice program through her employer Quirindi Care Services and says the support from her employer and ACCPA has been invaluable in her aged care career.

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