Aged care nursing is considered to be a dignified area of nursing as it revolves around addressing the complex needs of older patients in a safe environment. An aged care nurse is responsible for providing care to elderly people in nursing homes, hospitals, residential care units and home care service (Clark et al., 2014). The present essay discusses and analyses the professional attributes and scope of practice that differentiates the speciality nurse in aged care. The essay illustrates the roles and responsibilities that an aged care nurse has to demonstrate within the area of practice. It also identifies the additional education and training required for being an expert in this field. The essay is guided by the NMBA Competencies for Registered Nurses relating to aged care.
Aged care nursing is gaining more demand in the contemporary era due to a fast ageing population in the country and their diverse healthcare needs. The career path of an aged care nurse is interesting, engaging and challenging. In order to work as an aged care nurses, one must be a Registered Nurse who is a regulated health professional under Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and has a registration under the Nursing Board. For becoming a registered nurse, one has to pass the three years Bachelor of Nursing degree. These nurses can then pursue post graduate degree qualification that specialises in aged care, like Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Masters and Clinical Doctoral. These courses enable the registered to nurse to attain the desired expertise and skills in an aged care facility. The baseline for preparation for becoming an aged care nurses is, therefore, a degree as a registered nurse (Clark et al., 2013).
An aged care nurse is to provide physical, emotional and personal support to older patients who require medical interventions and support for daily activities of living. Providing assistance to the patients for the multi-faceted functions of life is the key responsibility of such a nurse. The level of assistance provided is dependent on the health and emotional well-being of the patient. The jobs that an aged care nurse has to carry out include administration of medicines, monitoring of diets, observations of residents and reporting to the senior management. Another area of responsibility is to manage the age-related complications that older patients often face (Dunphy et al., 2015). Aged care nurse has the challenge of working in diverse working conditions since the needs of the geriatric population is significantly different and more complex than the other patient populations. They may be required to work in rotational shifts with more duration of working hours. Often, the duty is stressful and exhausting due to the nature of work done. They also are at risk of safety hazards while engaging with the patients (Peate et al., 2013).
Clark et al., (2013) outlines the skills, knowledge and attributes that an aged care nurse must possess. As per the authors, an aged care worker needs to have a supportive and caring attitude. The nurse needs to have a patience and high level of discretion. Moreover, a high level of professionalism is required to work with elderly patients as the working environment may not always be suitable and comfortable to work in. Nurses need to have physical strength and fitness to work in such demanding conditions. An aged care nurse needs to use different tools and equipment like the hoists to move the patient from the bed and swivel cushions for movement from cars. It is pivotal that nurses have the training for handling such equipment and technologies. Familiarity with vehicle modifications is also crucial.
Scanlon et al., (2016) describes the professional attributes and qualities that an aged care nurse must possess to accomplish as an aged care professional. An elderly patient is faced with limitations that are liberating at times and humbling at others. A professional caring for the aged patients must be having the knowledge of such changes and provide support at the time of this transition. Apart from empathetic and caring in nature, aged care nurse must have a calm disposition, patience, motivation and positivity, sensitivity, respect towards patience and clear and effective communication skills. Professionals need to dedicate the attention to delivering optimal care services for the patients and avoid the interference of their personal concerns and stress factors into their professionalism. A positive approach is needed as such professionals are responsible for supporting and encouraging patients with enthusiasm and optimism. A culturally safe environment is to be build up in due practice for eliminating language, ethnic and cultural differences. A number of reasons contribute to the vulnerability of the elder patients. Being sensitive and responsiveness to the emotional changes elder patients go through is a key feature of aged care nurses (Cashin et al., 2015).
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia outlines the National competency standards for the registered nurse in Australia, and these standards are applicable for aged care nurses. The competencies required fall under the domains of professional practice, critical thinking and analysis, provision and coordination of care and collaborative and therapeutic practice. The competencies for professional practice implies that a nurse needs to be aware of the legal, ethical and professional responsibilities that are reflected through a demonstration of satisfactory accountability, knowledge level, proper functioning in accordance with the legislations and protection of patient’s rights. Nurses need to demonstrate critical thinking and critical analysis and consider the value of evidence-based practice. Reflection on own practice and beliefs and feelings is necessary. Coordination is to be extended for assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care. Lastly, nurses are to establish and sustain professional relationships with other professionals and patients. Working in an interdisciplinary team is crucial for effective care delivery (nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au, 2010).
At the end, it can be stated that nurses are fundamental to the care delivery in aged care sector. Specialist skills, knowledge, and jest to apply theory into practice are the key attributes of an aged care nurse. Aged care nursing practice offers exciting, rewarding and dynamic work and prosperous career opportunities. Organisations must lend full support so that aged care nurses can utilise their full scope of practice.
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Clark, S. J., Parker, R. M., & Davey, R. (2014). Nurse Practitioners in Aged Care Documentary Analysis of Successful Project Proposals. Qualitative health research, 1049732314548691.
Clark, S., Parker, R., Prosser, B., & Davey, R. (2013). Aged care nurse practitioners in Australia: evidence for the development of their role. Australian Health Review, 37(5), 594-601.
Dunphy, L. M., Winland-Brown, J., Porter, B., & Thomas, D. (2015). Primary Care: Art and Science of Advanced Practice Nursing. FA Davis.
National competency standards for the registered nurse. (2010). nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au. (1st ed.).
Peate, I., Wild, K., & Nair, M. (2014). Nursing practice: knowledge and care. John Wiley & Sons.
Scanlon, A., Cashin, A., Bryce, J., Kelly, J. G., & Buckely, T. (2016). The complexities of defining nurse practitioner scope of practice in the Australian context. Collegian, 23(1), 129-142.