Preventing elder abuse with quality aged care

Thursday 15 Jun 2017

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic is renewing her support for more registered nurses in NSW aged care homes to deliver a high standard of care to elderly residents.

Associate Professor Maree Bernoth from the University's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health said, "Only last month the NSW government voted against a requirement that a registered nurse be on duty around the clock in high care facilities.

 "The rationale for the vote was that rural and remote aged care facilities would not be able to attract registered nurses," Professor Bernoth said.

"However, a registered nurses' level of skill is essential to provide quality care for frail older people with complex and multiple chronic conditions, for residents with dementia and residents requiring palliative care and pain management.

"As a key educator of registered nurses in NSW, Charles Sturt University is undertaking a number of initiatives to improve support and care for our older community members especially those living in rural and regional areas."

These include:

-       A Transition to Practice Program for newly graduated nurses entering the workforce, which is currently being evaluated by residential aged care facilities in Nambucca Heads, Dubbo and Deniliquin.

-       As a result of research conducted with Holy Spirit Aged Care Dubbo, graduate positions for registered nurses were created and the number for 2017 is going to double in 2018.  

-       CSU has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Catholic Healthcare. This involves the appointment of a joint Clinical Chair in Aged Care Practice Innovation in Bathurst in August.

-       A new research project to develop a resource for older people to share their experiences of ageing with student nurses.

-       To ensure CSU undergraduate nursing students are prepared to work with older people, the curriculum includes a dedicated subject focusing on older people, Life stage considerations: The older person. This subject is supported by the text, Healthy Ageing and Aged Care, which includes personal stories of older people captured in text and video.

-       A weekly magazine, Milestones, has been published for this dedicated subject, and a game developed to make learning interesting and fun.  

The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is designated by the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday 15 June in a bid to draw international attention to the problem. 

Associate Professor Bernoth said, "The abuse can be financial, psychological, physical, neglect or sexual, and it happens in homes and facilities where older people should be safe.

"In NSW, the Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit estimates that 50 000 older people suffer some form of abuse, but only one in five are reported to authorities."

The Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit can be contacted on 1800 628 221 for information, support and referrals.


Media contact: Fiona Halloran , (02) 6933 2207

Media Note:

For interviews with Associate Professor Maree Bernoth in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health at CSU in Wagga Wagga, contact CSU Media.