QUALITIES OF A ‘GREAT NURSE’

As our nation’s largest healthcare profession, Australian nurses are showing no signs of slowing down especially in terms of job growth and demand. Given the significant high demand for nurses in Australia, understanding the qualities of being a great nurse is invaluable to healthcare frontline like Best Practice Nursing Agency aiming to attract and retain some of the best nursing talent. Nursing is one of the most demanding careers to get into, but also one of the most rewarding. Nursing is actually an incredibly difficult and taxing job, and it takes a special kind of person to be a great nurse. Not everyone can handle the hard work, stress, pressure and demands. Becoming a great nurse requires more than working long shifts and having practical knowledge and skills; it takes a particular set of talents and personality traits such as compassion, commitment, character and spirit.

Nurses are the life and soul of the healthcare profession that do amazing life changing things. The best nurses are considered exceptional because they have a thirst for knowledge, continual skill development and gain lots of experience. As a nursing recruiter, I have interviewed many nurses over the years and one of the questions that I do ask the applicants, is ‘Why did you decide on a career as a nurse?’ I can honestly say about 80% of nurses have answered, it is because they had been inspired by a nurse they had encountered at a young age whilst that nurse cared for a family member

“When I was younger, I was visiting my grandmother in hospital and I noticed that another patient in the room was in a lot of pain, and I just wanted to help them. When the nurse came to assist the patient, I found myself intrigued and I decided then and there that I wanted to be a nurse”.  BPNA RN D.K. Florence

“My main source of inspiration to become a nurse comes from an innate desire to help people and care for them in times of need, just like the nurses who took care of my grandfather when I was ten. I knew then, I also wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Now as a profession nurse, I deal with many aspects of patient care and it is satisfying when I impact someone’s life for the better”. BPNA RN Mel

“I have been an Enrolled Endorsed Nurse for the past 2 years. I chose nursing as my career path because I have always wanted to help people ever since I was a young girl. I wanted to understand how I could help a person not only get healthy but stay healthy. That’s what we nurses do”. BPNA EEN S. Shrestha

A great nurse is able to do their job effectively and devote time and energy to their career, so they feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment in the lives of the patients they touch. Great nurses work hard to make a difference every day, they also give a piece of their heart to each and every patient under their care.

While each nurse brings their own unique qualities to their work, here are some qualities of a great nurse that make them perfect for the job.

GREAT NURSES ARE CARING: What a good nurse is more than practical knowledge. The number one quality of a good nurse is caring, and without a foundation for caring, you cannot be compassionate and provide quality care to others. A great nurse is able to do their job effectively while also showing empathy, concern, and sensitivity to all patients they serve. The lack of compassion has a negative impact on patients, particularly the elderly and those suffering from terminal illnesses. A nurse showing a natural tendency to truly care about how their patients feel, will have a significant impact on their success in the nursing field, which makes caring a key indicator of a nurse’s success.

GREAT NURSES ARE EMPATHETIC: Not to be confused with compassion, empathy is the ability to relate to what someone is feeling or going through. A characteristic of a great nurse is one that shows empathy to each patient, making a true effort to put themselves in their patients’ shoes. By connecting emotionally and personally with patients, you open up the opportunity for a patient to feel comfortable to share with you their own emotions and personal experiences. Gaining the trust of your patients and taking the time to understand where their thoughts and emotions, can help to defuse stressful situations or identify areas where you should focus your patient care. When patients are fortunate enough to encounter these characteristics of a great nurse, it makes their care experience that much better.

PATIENCE IS KEY: Patience is a part of the emotional stability necessary to work in the field of nursing. Nursing can be a high stress job, whether you’re in a fast paced emergency room, proving critical care or community In-Home care, it’s essential to practice patience. Nurses must be patient and help people overcome anxiety, stress and fear. It goes without saying that you will have difficult patients, family members who believe they know more than you. You’re going to spend a lot of time educating patients and their families on their health. Enter every situation with a calm attitude at all times is good for patients, but it’s also good for you too. Which brings us to the next important nursing trait.

GREAT NURSES COMMUNICATE WELL: A major component of nursing is being able to work with a variety of people, and that requires excellent communication skills. Working in the healthcare system requires consistent and clear communication, both written and verbal. As a liaison between other nurses and allied health workers, patients and their families, nurses never stop collecting and relaying critical data. Without the ability to interpret and convey communication correctly, medical errors are more likely to occur which could mean the difference between life and death. To communicate clearly, nurses need to be comfortable reading, writing and presenting information to others verbally. Remember, listening is as much a part of communication as speaking. Pay attention during every conversation you have, taking a moment to listen and talk can help avoid mistakes. A great nurse is aware that communication skills help gain the trust of their patients and other staff.

GREAT NURSES PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL: Nurses have a wide variety of responsibilities, all of which require strong attention to detail. Even in the most busy, hectic environment, it is very important for nurses to have a strict attention to detail so that they don’t make mistakes. From administering medications and other treatments, monitoring patients’ conditions, educating patients and their families or reading a patient’s chart correctly, there’ s nothing that should be left to chance in nursing. Having a strong attention to detail is one of the nurse personality traits that can easily and quickly determine how successful a great nurse will be in their role.

GREAT NURSES ARE CRITICAL THINKERS: Critical thinking skills is essential for nurses and a necessity for the provision of safe, high-quality clinical care. Nurses today are caring for patients who have complex, culturally diverse health care needs, making the importance of critical thinking in nursing even more paramount. Nurses must be able to think critically in order to anticipate patient needs, by assessing a situation  quickly, make crucial decisions on the spot, analysing the situation, and coming up with a solution with no time hesitate. It includes questioning, data collection, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, inference, inductive and deductive reasoning, intuition, application, creativity, and verification.

GREAT NURSES HAVE THE ABILITY TO PROBLEM SOLVE: Problem solving is defined as a response given in an important and difficult situation, where critical thinking is required for a solution.  While clinical knowledge and training is taught throughout a nurse’s education, on the job training is the most effective way to help a nurse’s problem solving skills. These skills are essential, as nurses generally have the most one-on-one time with patients and are often responsible for much of the decision-making related to their care. By thinking creatively, asking the right questions and considering multiple options, great nurses will be able to solve problems more effectively. Those who use problem-solving skills, see problems not as obstacles but as opportunities to improve their patients’ health and well-being.

GREAT NURSES HAVE A WILLINGNESS TO LEARN: Healthcare is constantly evolving and a great nurse changes with it, staying up-to-date and knowledgeable. One of the most important nursing strengths is a desire to keep learning.  As medical knowledge and technology is advancing rapidly, a great nurse must  keep working on their professional development, improving their skills and learning new things. Great nurses never stop learning, are willing to learn and continue education to reach full competency.

Some other qualities of a great nurse is: patient advocacy, time management, leadership, attention to detail, physical stamina,   open mindedness,  versability, respectfulness, flexibility, discretion, assertiveness, organised skills… this list of qualities that great nurses tend to share is long, but it shouldn’t be intimidating. While each nurse brings their own unique qualities to their work, the qualities that make a great nurse can be learnt, encouraged and grown.

If you take the time to follow these tips to improve your knowledge and skill development, your reward will have better outcomes for your patients and more confidence in your abilities as a ‘great nurse’.

Where Did All the Nurses Go? Can Australia find enough nurses to meet the increasing demand for healthcare services?

Healthcare has long since been one of Australia’s most in-demand industries, a trend that’s expected to continue according to the Australian government, particularly the demand for nurses. Health Workforce Australia (HWA) is estimating that there will be a shortage of over 100,000 nurses by 2025 and more than 123,000 nurses by 2030.

The healthcare sector is one of Australia’s largest and fastest growing industries. Australia faces a major challenge in sustaining a health workforce with an ageing population and ageing health workforce. The Australian healthcare system confronts a nurse shortage, predicted to increase in severity over the next twenty years, raising the question, ‘Why is the demand for nurses in Australia so high?’ An ageing population, along with high population growth, it has created a headache for nursing recruiters.

Where Did All the Nurses Go?

There is a shortage of nurses worldwide and almost every country struggles to find nurses to staff healthcare systems. Health services are under increased pressure, and just recently the Australian government revealed that registered nurses and midwives in particular are in high demand. The population of Australia has more than doubled over the last 50 years, and it is estimated there will be a shortfall of around 31,000 nurses by 2062. Australian government analysts are predicting that the number of Australians aged 65 and over will more than double by 2057. As our population ages, and its needs evolve, the demand of nurses in critical care, midwifery, aged care and mental health will only increase.

‘Why does Australia never have enough nurses?’

Here in Australia, all nurses are playing a crucial role across the patient care spectrum, providing important support to the community still concerned with COVID-19. It’s not widely recognised that nurses make up the largest segment in our health workforce with registered nurses comprise the largest health care occupation. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported approximately 400,000 registered and enrolled nurses, with 33% of nurses in Australia born overseas. Historically, nurses who migrated to Australia came from England, New Zealand, Canada, India, Malaysia and China. It has been reported, some countries intentionally educate nurses so they can migrate to Australia. Quite often, the international nurses not only work for professional development, but most work to send money back home to support their families. More nurses are needed to meet the growing demand for healthcare service, which is proving difficultly and could undermine Australia’s healthcare system.

That’s particularly the case now that Australia doesn’t have many international nurses as they have returned to their countries due to Covid-19. Despite clear skill shortages, studies have shown we are not utilising international talent as much as it once did. The number of skilled visas awarded annually for healthcare positions has fallen.

The Australian Government is now looking to tap into as demand for hospital care is likely to put unprecedented strain on our health system and our nurses. There are been a good response across Australia, as 3083 nurses have enrolled to complete the refresher course and 14,600 looking to work in critical care. With high staff turnover forces many public and private hospitals to advertise almost constantly for new nurses. Registered nurse consistently ranks as one of Australia’s most heavily advertised occupations.  According to the ABC, New South Wales currently has around 70,000 full-time equivalent registered nurses and midwives. Modelling figures show that by the year 2030 there will be a shortfall of around 8,000 nursing staff. NSW will need approximately 13,000 nurses by 2030 but will have only 7,500 nurses available, reaching a little more than half the demand. 2017 saw the lowest number of nurses on 457 visas since 2009, the first record of employees on the visa. While the lower number of overseas nurses in Australia aims to encourage job openings for local nurses, the number of experienced local nurses is simply not meeting patient demand. Another part of the decrease in numbers of nurses is the nature of the industry; nursing is challenging, demanding and stressful. The burden of a nursing shortage impacts those nurses who are working in the field, as more nurses retire and fewer nurses entering the field, the work is piled higher on those left working.

With an aging baby boomer population, climbing rates of chronic issues and a growing emphasis on preventative care, will the Australian healthcare industry be able to keep up with the demand for nurses?  The Australian government needs to attend to the economic issues facing the nursing profession that is and currently troubling us Australians. Perhaps, a rise in nursing wages in an effort to draw more people into the nursing occupation. Nurses’ salaries must be competitive to attract applicants. The State of the World’s Nursing 2020 Report highlight key recommendations and calls on governments to increase funding for nursing leadership, education and job opportunities to strengthen the future direction of the nursing workforce. To ease the pressure, the Australian government is expanding their health offering building new hospitals. These new hospitals will require qualified, skilled staff, hence the need for an urgent recruitment drive to ensure that all services are staffed sufficiently. Whilst the government was initially trying to attract Australian nurses, the demand is such that the search has widened to skilled migrant workers. Australia needs to get back the international nurses.

For international nurses, whether you have high level skills and experience or need to gain additional skills, there are excellent nursing work opportunities available. If you apply for a visa to work as a nurse or midwife, you just need to be in good health and of good character to meet visa requirements and work. To work in Australia, you must be registered by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMBA) which is partnered with the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency (AHPRA) and is responsible for the registration of registered and enrolled nurses and midwives.

In order to combat the effects of Australia’s nursing shortage, Australia has no choice but to deal with this problem. The Australian government needs to develop effective training solutions and education, and increase salaries to draw more talent.

The answer to the nursing shortage isn’t exactly easy, but failing to address these ongoing nursing shortages will weigh on the health and wellbeing of Australians for many years to come.

Ongoing Nursing Education – CPD Requirements

We live in an ever-changing world with our environment constantly subjected to change and modernisation, there seems to always be some sort of development. This is particularly true in the dynamic field of health and medicine. In such a fast-evolving and ever-growing industry the significance of education has never been more important. With methods and procedures being updated and enhanced, new more effective or safer drugs being synthesised and greater knowledge learnt regarding disease and illness, education has become an ongoing and never-ending aspect of health professionals’ lives. 

“Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is how health practitioners maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence and develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout their professional lives.” – AHPRA.  So, what constitutes as CPD? There are no mandatory or prescribed activities or limitations on the types or number of activities a nurse can complete. They can also be undertaken in a wide range of ways from being self-directed, workplace based or via formal programs offered by professional organisations and education providers.

CPD courses for nurses reflect the skills, expertise and awareness required to provide responsive, standard care to patients, to support nurses in reflecting on and processing the impact of work and to implement change in a contemporary context in a sustained and meaningful way.  They provide pathways for developing and improving a nurses’ clinical practice and workplace cultures and structures. There are many different avenues which nurses can follow in order to further broaden their general knowledge and contribute to CPD including:

  • Enrolling in traditional or online degree programs.
  • Watching online webinars and videos.
  • Joining nursing associations.
  • Receiving on-the-job training.
  • Researching and reading nursing journals, articles and evidence-based literature.
  • Volunteering on committees.
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals.
  • Short courses/ workshops
  • Discussion groups through a professional group or organisation who may issue a certificate of compliance/completion.
  • Attending conferences, lectures, seminars or professional meetings
  • Participating on accreditation, audit or quality improvement committees

This is not only to enhance knowledge and skills, but to improve performance resulting in greater quality of care provided to the patient. As the knowledge needed to function effectively as a professional nurse or midwife continues to change and expand, consumer demand and expectations continue to increase. Therefore, registered health practitioners have an obligation to maintain their competence and professionalism whilst aiming for continuous improvement in the standard of care they provide.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) requires practising nurses and midwives to:

  • Identify their learning needs
  • Develop a brief learning plan
  • Participate in CPD activities
  • Reflect on the value of these activities to their practice.

Poor or outdated education and a lack of sufficient knowledge can lead to mistakes which can prove to be costly for people’s health. Improved knowledge is an essential tool for prevention of errors, by ensuring nurses are engaged in continual learning throughout their working career to facilitate workforce mobility and so workplace development is enhanced.

For health practitioners who are engaged in any form of practice, it is mandatory to participate regularly in CPD relevant to their scope of practice as is outlined by AHPRA. Registered nurses and midwives for instance are required to complete at least 20 hours of CPD during each registration year. The current registration requirements for nurses are: Registered Nurse – 20 hours per year, Registered Midwife – 20 hours per year, Enrolled Nurse – 20 hours per year.  As a nurse and/or midwife, you are due to renew your general or non-practising registration annually by 31 May under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. You are able to check your registration details and expiry date on the national register. If you do not renew your registration by 31 May, or within the one-month late period, your name will be removed from the national register and your registration will lapse in accordance with the National Law.

At Best Practice Nursing Agency (BPNA) the importance of ongoing education is strongly recognised via our professional development and client satisfaction, as we continually aim to assist our nurses in staying up-to-date with current practice standards. By providing quality education programs and constantly reviewing our training procedures to meet compliance with new legislation and of course client requirements. To ensure our nurses meet CPD requirements set by the Nursing and Midwife Board of Australia, we provide a number of online courses through The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)which contribute to continuing professional education online. Our recruitment processes ensure each and every nurse who is hired are held to the APHRA standards regarding registration, but also their ongoing education. By ensuring that only suitably qualified, ethical and up to date nurses are accepted for providing appropriate services, but also keeping the clients safe.

Staying up to date with ongoing education can sometimes be challenging, but with the right support and avenues, it can feel like a breeze. There are many alternative ways nurses can keep themselves updated; through course conferences, web-based activities, online learning or more informal sharing of practice. Informal sharing of practice usually occurs more often than healthcare professionals may realise whilst at work. It may be one of the easiest ways to gain new knowledge, interacting between team members on a regular basis can be extremely beneficial. Consider shadowing another nurse in an unfamiliar specialty, volunteer to float to other nursing unit, find a mentor, or even consider becoming one to a new nurse to broaden your professional network. Ongoing education in nursing is a vital part of any nurses critical-thinking skills required to solve issues they will come across while working and caring for patients. By following new techniques and procedures, nurses can increase positive patient outcomes, reduce errors, mortality rates and also forge strong positive relationships with patients and colleagues. By staying current and up to date in your practice, long life learning can be exciting when you have the right resources in place. Ongoing education is particularly important in recent times concerning the spread of COVID-19. It is vital all necessary precautions are taken by nurses to not only keep the public safe, but ensure their own safety as well. Therefore being educated on the matter will prove to be extremely significant when conducting nursing work in a healthcare environment. In turn, nurses and midwives are reminded to keep up to date with COVID-19, this can be achieved via COVID-19 in-services, reading and reflecting on COVID-19 journal articles and COVID-19 infection control training such as online training modules which all count towards CPD. By doing so, our healthcare system will only improve and be better equipped to handle the problems we face today.  

The Value of an Agency Practice Nurse

Practice Nurses are knowledgeable health professionals that play a critical role in primary healthcare, by working collaboratively with GPs and other health professionals to deliver safe and quality nursing care, treatment and health education to patients of all ages. Best Practice Nursing Agency (BPNA) offers many advantages and rewarding benefits to working as an agency practice nurse, such as the flexibility of choosing when and where you work to receiving higher pay rates.  Agency nursing means, nurses are in control. As a nursing agency, we help medical centre’s find qualified and experienced practice nurses. But why should you work as an agency practice nurse?

At BPNA, we enable you to take control of your work/life balance because ultimately, you decide when, where and how often you’d like to work. Nurses are given the ability to schedule their work around their lifestyle. Practice nurses play a vital role in enhancing the doctor to patient relationship through providing patient centered care and taking an organised and timely approach to meeting patient’s needs. The benefits of utilising experienced practice nurses are significant to any medical practice’s smooth operation and overall success in delivering a high standard of healthcare services.

The employment of agency practice nurses to any medical practice will lead to greater patient access to the services which they need, an enhanced range of services being made available and a more in-depth management of people with chronic health conditions. This is achieved through the many differing roles of a practice nurse, for instance providing ongoing support and assistance to the doctors, taking a more team-based approach to healthcare and not only promoting safety and quality programs but implementing them. Medical Practices can reap the rewards by hiring experienced agency practice nurses at a cost-effective rate.

The positive outcomes which can be credited to the role of a Practice Nurse includes:

  • a decrease in waiting times for appointments and consultations;
  • less of an overload on GP’s schedule;
  • increased patient satisfaction;
  • provide an inducement to recruit new GPS;
  • a higher level of community care;
  • increase turnover & profitability;
  • greater staff morale;
  • better patient compliance.

There is no doubt about the importance of practice nurses to the healthcare industry, that’s why our nursing agency works hard to produce and facilitate the on-going supply of practice nurses to Medical Centres throughout the Sydney metropolitan and Illawarra region.  Many nurses consider agency nursing at some point in their lives to supplement their income, enjoy different work experiences and gain a greater work-life balance. However, with Health Workforce Australia (HWA) estimating that there will be a shortage of over 100,000 nurses by 2025, staffing crisis news stories dominating the media, many nurses are contemplating their futures within the sector. That’s why working through our nursing agency will be one of the best decisions you make.

At BPNA we are dedicated in helping qualified practices nurses just like you, attain the best nursing jobs without the hassle. We pride ourselves in finding the right medical centre’s for every nurse that matches their qualifications and specialties, and more importantly, preferences. If you are an experienced practice nurse looking for greater flexibility in your home life, top rates of pay, or perhaps you would like to experienced different work environments call us. We are a leading supplier of practice nurses to Sydney medical centre’s and we are committed to providing the highest level of client care and customer service.

We encourage professionalism, integrity and friendliness in all our nursing and business activities.  We offer a personalised service with working closely with our consultants to forge a strong relationship, which enables us to better understand your individual needs and intuitively match you with the right medical centre. As your relationship with the consultant grows, we will learn more about the type of shifts you like and the locations you prefer. This is an excellent way to control your career and achieve job satisfaction.  Our Nursing Recruitment Manager has said “It takes good nurses and clients to make a great nursing agency. At BPNA, we work closely with our nurses and clients to facilitate effective customer service, and promote positive nursing and client outcomes. Over the years, we’ve worked with hundreds of nurses and clients, and have developed the formula for a successful relationship with them. We’re working to a common goal on supplying our clients with the best nursing staff that BPNA has to offer”   

Joining a recruitment agency is much easier than applying to numerous different places. You control your work schedules and it also gives the opportunity to work in different medical centre’s. Still not sure if the agency route is for you? When I asked some of practices nurses why they choose to work for our agency instead of taking up a permanent post, this is what they said:

Working for an agency is easier, as you choose when you want to work. I love the interpersonal relationship I have with BPNA and I am able to have the consultant’s books shifts of where I want to go. They make me feel really valued and part of a team. Its a great work culture and I am proud to represent them

Sophie G, RN Practice Nurse

“ I love the flexibility, as I decide what kind of shifts I want to work. Working with BPNA has many benefits; very reputable, reliable and supportive. They always try to accommodate everybody’s needs. I am in constant contact with the consultants each day, and in the nine months of working with them, there has always been work available. Not many changes in scheduled work or cancellations and they pay well’

Salena H, RN Practice Nurse

“I had been working as an agency nurse in various medical centres whilst in Sydney. I was able to adapt to different work settings and environments, building up my knowledge and clinical nursing skills. I really enjoyed working for BPNA, as they helping my professional development, but had great pay and flexibility. The office staff are welcoming and respectful from the start, professional, supportive and were always understanding and available to assist. I enjoyed working for this agency and would recommend practice nurses to get in contact with them”    Kristen T, RN Practice Nurse

“Best Practice Nursing are quick to address our nursing requirements which they do in an efficient and professional manner, even at short notice – an approach that not only inspires confidence, but generates the results we are looking for. They are pragmatic in their approach, interact well with all our health team and they are always the first agency we approach for our locum nursing needs”    Sue S, Practice Manager

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of working as an agency practice nurse with BPNA, contact one of our dedicated recruitment consultants via email info@bpna.com.au or call 1300 687 733 during office hours.

What does it mean to be an Aged Care Worker?

For those of us not working on the front line in aged care, it can be hard to imagine what a care worker does on a day-to-day basis. Taking care of people is something that takes a lot of different strengths and when it comes to taking care of the elderly, the job has a number of challenges that can only be met by a certain type of person. However, it can be an incredibly rewarding career, giving your time to take care of those who cannot care for themselves. The aim of the aged care system, as described by the Productivity Commission (2018), is to promote the well being and independence of older people (and their carers), by enabling them to stay in their own homes or by supporting their care needs in residential care. This overall aim is implicit in the Aged Care Act 1997.

Older Australians can develop issues with doing day to day tasks and require assistance in undertaking these activities. Aged care workers are frontline staff that help older people achieve their goals and make sure they assist in enhancing the quality of life.

WHAT IS AN AGED CARE WORKER?

Aged Care Workers provide care and support to elderly people by assisting with the maintenance of personal care, domestic duties and management of illness. This often includes providing support with eating, showering, dressing, tidying and cleaning. Aged Care Workers can work from their client’s home, residential care facility, hospitals and clinics. They also provide companionship and emotional support, and promote independence and community participation.

Common skills and tasks among aged care workers for the elderly include:
  • Advising families on nutrition, habits and bedside care
  • Monitoring medication and vital signs with registered nurses and physicians
  • Transporting the elderly and disabled
  • Helping clients communicate
  • Food preparation
  • Making sure that clients’ personal hygiene is taken care of
  • Organizing social activities
  • Maintaining records and paperwork
  • Tidying and cleaning, including sanitising activities.
  • Engaging with family members to offer observations, instructions and updates.
  • Following health and safety guidelines.

One of the primary tasks of an Aged Care Worker is to arrange and facilitate activities designed to enhance the different kinds of well being — emotional, social and physical.

Personal requirements for an Aged Care Worker:
  • Friendly and compassionate
  • Patient, flexible and understanding
  • Supportive and caring nature
  • Commitment to the rights of the elderly to live dignified lives
  • Able to accept responsibility
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Able to perform domestic duties efficiently

Australia has an ageing population, which is increasing demand for Aged Care and related services. Aged Care is one of the fastest growing careers in Australia. More than 1.2 million people received aged care services during 2017–18, with most (77%) receiving support in their home or other community-based settings. Putting this in context, Australians aged 65 and over in 2017–18:

  • 7% accessed residential aged care
  • 22% accessed some form of support or care at home
  • 71% lived at home without accessing government-subsidised aged care services.

Almost 221,200 people began using aged care services in 2018–19. Around 1 in 5 people were admitted to home care in 2018–19 and more than two thirds of admissions into aged care in 2018–19 were to residential care. Employment for Aged and Disabled Carers to 2023 is expected to grow very strongly. Employment in this very large occupation, rose very strongly in the past five years and in the long-term (ten years). There are government studies that reveal that there could be a vast shortage of aged care workers by the end of this decade, (Aged Care Union, United Voice, Federal Government). This means that the job prospect outlooks for this industry are high.

WHAT AGED CARE QUALIFICATION DO YOU NEED TO BECOME AN AGED CARE WORKER?

To become an Aged Care Worker, you are generally required to complete a qualification in Ageing Support or Individual Support. By undertaking courses in aged care, you will meet minimum education requirements, gain the knowledge and practical experience required to help you to secure a job.

Complete a Certificate IV in Ageing Support (CHC3015) or Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) (CHC33015) at a TAFE or Registered Training Organisation. Either of these certificate consists of both academic training and practical on-the-job experience. It will also give you the skills to provide person-centred support to people who require assistance due to ageing or disability. It will give you a good overview of aged care, along with the safety, legal and ethical protocols you need to know when working with the elderly.  Some additional information –  to work as an aged care worker, you must obtain a National Police Certificate and a provide First Aid/CPR Certificate, Working with Children Check and COVID-19 training.

Do you have an upcoming job interview for an aged care position? Make sure you come prepared by knowing what questions to expect. Read ”Applying for a job? Here’s how to nail the nursing interview!”  to learn how you can impress your interviewer. Are you looking for your first work experience as an Aged Care Worker?  Check our guide on “Interview Tips with a Recruitment Agency”  on how to ace the job interview and making a good impression with the recruitment consultant, including what to expect from an interview, how to prepare for it and how to make the most of the relationship to secure a nursing position.

Aged care workers have one of the fastest growing and most rewarding careers in the country. Through their daily responsibilities, they are able to help some of the most vulnerable people in Australia and have the opportunity to form rewarding personal relationships which can be hard to do in other jobs. Aged Care Workers are often extremely dedicated to those they care for, people who can be socially isolated so that it is the aged care worker who provides much needed company and emotional support. Some of our BPNA Aged Care Workers shared their thoughts: 

“Aged care has its good and bad days, but I keep going back for the clients. I like having the continued conversations with them and listening to their stories. Although it is hard watching a client’s mental and physical health decline, I feel privileged to be enhancing their lives with my continued care and support” 

As more and more people in today’s society are reliant on support for their aged loved ones because of their hectic schedules, the need for aged care workers is steadily on the rise. Even throughout the pandemic, you can enrol in a course and become fully qualified within 6 months. The Australian Government predicts “very strong” future job growth for Aged Carers over the next 5 years, which means your chances at finding a job as an Aged Care worker are high.  Working to improve the lives of others and to make a positive difference on a daily basis is a meaningful career that’s rewarding on many levels.  If you have a caring attitude, a positive outlook, great communication skills and can imagine yourself doing the tasks required, then aged or disabled care could be the career for you.

Physical Activity In Nurses: Your Health Matters

Nurses, midwives and nursing and midwifery students are in a respected and vital position, providing care to individuals and their families within a diverse range of settings across Australia. As with any member of the community, they are not immune to experiencing health issues.  

The importance of a physically active lifestyle for the Australian population is well known. Over half of Australian adults do not meet physical activity recommendations, which makes this a more prevalent risk factor.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Health Survey shows that 63% of Australians aged 18 and over are either overweight or obese. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported in 2018, one in 2 (50%) Australians are estimated to have a chronic disease with nearly 1 in 4 (23%) are estimated to have two or more diagnosed chronic health conditions such as arthritis, asthma, back problems, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or mental health conditions. It also reports, 64.9% of nurses and midwives in Australia experience at least one chronic disease, which included depression, hypertension and asthma.

Nurses make up the largest component of the health workforce and provide the majority of patient care. Most health education is delivered by nurses, who also serve as healthy living and behavioural role models. Anything that diminishes their health status can impact their credibility as role models, their availability and ability to deliver quality care and is potentially disadvantageous for the health of the population. Nurses face multiple negative stressors and report the greatest stress of all healthcare workers. Many nurses present with risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease e.g. physical inactivity, sedentary behaviour, overweight/obesity, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, diabetes, smoking, depression and anxiety.  Several studies have found low levels of physical activity with nurses, with most not meeting physical activity guidelines and high levels of sedentary behaviour.  Nurses working rotating shifts, 12-hour shifts and/or working full-time or part-time (vs. casual) may be at greater risk of physical inactivity; however, the opposite has been observed for sedentary behaviour. The National Health Survey 2017-18 indicates 1 in 2 adults (55%) did not participate in sufficient physical activity with males (15.2%) and females (14.4%) were considered inactive. Globally in 2016, 23% of men and 32% of women aged 18+ years were insufficiently physically active. Over the past 15 years, levels of insufficient activity did not improve (28.5% in 2001; 27.5% in 2016).

Nurses know exercise is good for their physical and mental health, but incorporating it into their busy lives can be a challenge. The only types of exercise some nurses have time for are working long shifts, juggling life’s demands, balancing the books, jumping on the bandwagon, climbing the ladder of success and skipping meals. Nurses have no problem describing the many benefits of exercise to help patients change their behaviour to improve their help. Ironically, the first behaviour nurses need to change is to work toward improving their own exercise habits. It is important for nurses to look after their own physical health and commit to regular exercise. Here are some of the benefits of exercise and how to get moving. Nurses’ physical performance at work has implications both for nurses’ occupational health and patient care. Although nurses are present 24-hours a day and engage in many physically demanding tasks, nurses’ occupational physical activity levels are poorly understood. “Physical inactivity is the fourth biggest killer in the world”

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise and physical activity are important for all ages and stages in life. In a physically intensive profession like nursing and midwifery, it is important to look after your physical health. Keeping active also directly influences your ability to maintain and improve your psychological and emotional health. It is recommended that nurses aim to exercise 30 minutes a day, five times per week. The good news is that exercise does not have to be expensive and there are many options available to help you meet your goals.

Choose an Activity

Look for a physical activity that you enjoy and are motivated to keep doing. You could try: walking, running, swimming, yoga or Pilates, dancing, tennis, bike riding, or team sports such as netball, basketball or football. Start slowly to build up your resilience. If you haven’t exercised much recently speak to a doctor about how to get started. Due to COVID-19, some state and territory governments have different physical activity restrictions. See your state or territory website for more information on ‘’What you can and can’t do under the rules’’ Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia 

To ensure physical distancing to stop the spread of the virus, there are still many ways you can be active while maintaining physical distance.

Out and about – you can still exercise in some public places. You can meet up with a friend, family member, or trainer. You can: walk, jog, ride a bike or scooter, kick a ball at the oval
At Home – Physical activity you can do at home includes: weights training — if you don’t have any weights, make your own with filled water bottles, cans or jars, yoga, Pilates, backyard sports, going up and down stairs, on-the-spot running, star jumps, sit ups and push ups, gardening, dancing, virtual fitness classes, Zoom or Skype group lounge exercises with your friends
Increasing your Fitness – as your physical health improves it’s a good idea to vary the type of activities that you do.
  • Strength and resistance training, improves muscle and bone strength.
  • Flexibility exercise,  improves joint and muscle range of motion.
  • Cardiovascular exercise/aerobics training, improves physical endurance and personal stamina.
  • Balance/core workouts, improves balance and co-ordination and increases abdominal strength.
Feeling Good – no matter the exercise, you will benefit from it triggering the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals from your brain.
  • Serotonin – reduces depression, hostility, and improves social behaviour.
  • Dopamine – improves mood and long-term memory.
  • Endorphins – produces a natural high’ response and can also act as an analgesic, diminishing the perception of pain, and also act as a sedative.
Other benefits of exercise
  • reduces the risk of depression and/or anxiety
  • assists in improving mental health
  • improves mood and concentration
  • reduces stress
  • reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • reduces the risk of osteoporosis and improves bone density
  • improves immunity
  • improves sleep quality
  • improves maintenance of weight/weight control
  • reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes
  • lowers the risk of some cancers, and
  • assists with pain management.

What can I do next?

With so many fast-paced changes in health care currently happening, now is the time for nurses to engage in the benefits of physical activity and to translate into practice. Nurses have a responsibility to not only share health information to patients, but owe it to yourselves to be role models for patients and be in the best of health in order to carry out your nursing roles efficiently. Physical activity is essential for good health, and those nurses who participate in physical activity are more likely to reap the benefits of good health such as lower sickness absence, increased loyalty to their workplace and better recruitment retention. 

There are a number of resources available for nurses to help increase their knowledge around how physical activity helps prevent as well as treat diseases associated with no or lower levels of exercise. The Australian Government, Department of Health ‘Make your move — Sit less — Be active for life!’ is a helpful brochure about the importance of being active and how it can improve your health.

The Best Reasons for a Nurse to Volunteer

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014 General Social Survey (GSS), volunteering is defined as the “provision of unpaid help willingly undertaken in the form of time, service or skills, to an organisation or group.” Volunteering is also renowned for skill development and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life. It has positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as nursing, medicine, education or emergency rescue such as in response to a natural disaster.

Volunteers in Australia are generous with their time, with three in ten people volunteering and providing substantial benefit to their communities. Last summer, thousands of Australians had dropped their ordinary lives to battle the nation’s raging fire crisis, close to 90% of those people on the ground fighting were unpaid volunteers,. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) which calls itself “the world’s largest volunteer firefighting organisation” has over 70,000 members all extensively trained and mostly unpaid.

“Why do people volunteer?”  In 2014, the GSS reported 5.8 million people or 31% of the Australian population aged 15 years and over participated in voluntary work. Over a 12-month period, voluntary work contributed 743 million hours to the community. The ultimate answer to the question? Well, many people agree that they volunteer basically to “give back to the society for a better sense of living to those around you and yourself”  Organisations report that they bring new insights, enhance the image of the organisation, increase efficiencies and volume of operations, and improve effectiveness. Volunteering is an indicator of well-being and also has links to the economic and health status of a nation – benefiting the economy and the health and well-being of volunteers by providing a personal sense of satisfaction and making them happier.

Volunteering gives you a healthy mind and a peaceful attempt towards life. When you start giving a bit of yourself to the community by doing well to as many people as you can, then it automatically gives us a sense of content, pride, identity and accomplishment.

Whether you’re working with a medical centre, aged care facility or hospital, you can feel proud that you’re using your nursing skills on people who really appreciate your care and support. You will find that offering your time to those in need, will provide you with the feel-good benefits of serving your community. No matter which type of nursing degree or certification you hold, you can volunteer. So what do volunteer nurses do?

Volunteering as a nurse

Volunteering is neither a long-standing commitment nor does it require you to spend a huge amount time out from your days. In fact, the more you volunteer, the more you will gain. Volunteer nursing duties are much like paid nursing duties such as visiting with patients, doing administration work or performing basic medical treatments. As nurses put a lot of heart and time into their career, naturally you do the same thing outside of work and it is no surprise that nurses do volunteer work in their spare time. Volunteering through nursing, lets you be devoted to a cause that’s close to your heart while spreading that passion to others. When you volunteer as a nurse, you’re providing health care and comfort to people who are in a state of physical weakness and helping someone feel better, is the top benefit of providing your services free of charge. Volunteering not only helps many causes and people; it also gives you a sense of purpose – it makes you feel good to do good. Additionally, it can help you grow your resume and build on your knowledge. There are many more good reasons to incorporate volunteerism into both your personal and professional life. Volunteering can expand your nursing skills and experience, increase your employment opportunities and stay active whilst giving back to the community.

Student Nurse

As a student nurse, gaining relevant nursing experience is important as it will help you be more familiar with your future work as a registered nurse. But how can you gain relevant experience? There are actually a couple of ways; studying hard and getting good grades, taking on a nursing or midwifery internship, getting involved in a nursing program or you can volunteer. Volunteering means you won’t get paid for your effort and services; however, this doesn’t mean that you won’t get anything from it. Being a volunteer has lots of benefits; it can bring meaning and purpose to your life, while increasing your self-esteem and well-being. Volunteering can relieve stress and alleviate symptoms of depression and have a positive impact on your community, and improve your relationships.

Volunteer Nursing Requirements

As with any career or volunteer opportunity, there are requirements for becoming a volunteer nurse. You can contact the organisation of your choice to learn about specifics. Generally, you will find the same types of requirements such as a certificate or degree or recent direct patient care experience. Volunteer nurses are needed in hospitals, nursing facilities, and other places where healthcare professionals are needed.

Whether you’re looking to continue building your skills in a particular specialisation or simply would like to give back to your community, a variety of volunteer opportunities exist for accredited nurses. The best place to start your search is through local volunteer job boards and community organisations like Australian Red Cross. With a nurse’s busy schedule, volunteering may prove difficult because you don’t have many hours left in your day, but it can allow you to share your skills with the less fortunate with the amount of time you do have.

Volunteering is a doorway to career exploration. Volunteer nursing duties are much like paid nursing duties… you can count on visiting with patients, doing clerical work and performing basic medical treatments..

Resume building

You probably don’t want to volunteer if your only motivation is to build your nursing resume. But if there’s a cause you care about, there’s nothing like volunteerism for demonstrating something about your interests, passions, personality and community engagement to potential employers. When managers recruit, they value the fact that an employer has volunteered for a certain stint and having a section dedicated to volunteerism or community service shows something important about who you are.  For new graduates or nurses very early in their careers, volunteer positions can help to strengthen a resume, especially if the you doesn’t have previous professional experiences to share. Volunteer opportunities are open to professional nurses, to nursing students, and even to those with no healthcare background, but who’d like to learn more about healthcare.

Networking

Volunteering can be one of the best ways to network for a job. Volunteering in nursing can be a great thing to do, as it lets you help a healthcare facility or community, and build contacts in healthcare field. It can also be a great place to meet new people with similar interests or backgrounds. While you are volunteering, you can almost guarantee a shared interest between you and other people there because you are all likely interested in the organisation or the cause you are volunteering for. Meeting people while working together can be good because you are able to form a bond from your shared volunteer experiences.  It is also a great way to stay engaged in the healthcare industry and a way to gain recognition. Volunteering can give you some much-needed confidence, and it will give you something to talk about in interviews and applications; something that demonstrates your qualifications. As a nurse, you want to be consistently building your professional network, so volunteering for causes you care about can put you in touch with people who may know of an opening that you may be interested in and provide a recommendation.  You never know where such relationships may lead.

Volunteering in Aged Care

There are aged care facilities that need help when it comes to providing care to their residents, and rely on volunteers to interact with their residents. Student Nurses can help provide support services to residential clients with the aim to enhance their quality of life. However, since you’re still a nursing student, your tasks will be limited to assist and interact with residents and community members one on one, assist in leisure activities and outings, offer emotional support and assist with resident’s mobility in walks, using gym equipment and following specialist programs. Whether it’s offering companionship and support, a cup of tea or a book, you need to have excellent communication skills, enjoy working as a member of a team, follow instructions and make the experience exceptional for the residents.

Volunteering in Community Health Events

Volunteers can support older people to remain independent in their own homes and connected to their communities. You might make a phone call to an older person to check that they’re ok, or visit someone to provide friendship and support or drive them to an essential medical appointment.  Volunteering in the community allows you to be well-versed person, connect with the community and make it a better place. Undeniably, helping out with even the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people and organisations in need.

You can also reach out to your local government and ask if they are planning on doing health fairs that provide services such as health screenings. Volunteering for those events can help you brush up your practical nursing skills. St John offers a diverse range of experiences to registered nurses, paramedics, doctors and emergency services professionals. Volunteer Health Care Professionals play an important role within St John Ambulance and its delivery of quality care to the community at major events as well as in the event of an emergency or disaster. Health Care Professionals are able to work across a variety of clinical environments according to their level of qualification, and are guided by the St John Ambulance scope of practice and clinical practice guidelines.

Local hospital – If you want to get a feel of what it’s like to work in a hospital, then look for volunteer opportunities at your local hospital. Although you won’t be taking vital signs or giving patients their medications, the experience you’ll get from working as a volunteer student nurse can help you gain insight into what it’s like to work in a certain nursing specialty.  For example, if you are thinking of becoming a paediatric nurse, you can volunteer to work in the paediatric ward.

Volunteering is a win-win situation for most nursing students. Apart from being able to help and share your skills and talent, you can also gain hands-on experiences that can help you become a better nurse in the future. It can also help you get a better understanding of what it’s like to work as a nurse and care for other people. If you plan to volunteer, just make sure that you’ve carefully assessed not just the opportunities but yourself as well. Make sure that you are willing to commit your time and that you are volunteering for something that you are truly passionate about.

Volunteering Abroad

Many organisations offer opportunities to volunteer abroad. Nursing students, as well as accredited nurses can find programs that suit their skill level and interests. These programs offer a lot of advantages, especially if you would like to combine your training and resume building with a bit of travel. They also provide a new perspective, so you will learn a lot about other cultures and different practices in the medical field. Keep a few key points in mind when searching for a volunteer program: Research carefully to make sure that the organisation managing the program is making a positive impact in the communities in which they work. Volunteering abroad gives you the opportunity to assess your adaptability and flexibility to live in potentially challenging day-to-day conditions and get exposed to different mentalities and ways of living. Volunteering abroad can offer an extremely rewarding experience for the right type of candidate in the right organisation.

Volunteering In the Workplace

As a volunteer nurse in the workplace, it might require you to involve yourself in certain workplace initiatives. Nurses grab this opportunity in order to acquire advance knowledge, upgrade their skills and strengthen their resumes. You can volunteer yourself to be the program manager for an event. While running the event, your employer might notice your capabilities and as a result, they may even offer you a paid position for future events. Workplace volunteerism does not just broaden your experience, but it can also influence your career progression.

A volunteer for life

No matter which kind of volunteerism you prefer, it is important that you choose the one that best suits your preferences and personality. You can also choose to volunteer in a local, national or international level. Examples include volunteering to be a paramedic for athletes in a national sport events or spending your weekend in nursing homes. No matter what you do, always keep in mind that you should volunteer for something that you have a passion for, as it will keep you satisfied and you will love doing it. For some nurses, it could be hard for them to find the right time to volunteer. Even so, once you have given it a go, most are likely to do it again in the future. The benefits of volunteering are enormous; for you, your family and the community at large. Volunteering does not only offer vital help to people in need and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. 

Volunteering and COVID-19

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government is responding to this health crisis on a daily basis. Australians have a lot to offer when it comes to public health expertise. We can play a significant role in the global effort to reduce the risk of global infectious disease outbreaks. Volunteers may look to organisations to provide support and guidance during COVID-19. It is important that organisations respond by helping volunteers to stay connected, even if the organisation has changed its operations, or stopped operating. You can help volunteers stay connected by: encouraging volunteers within an organisation to support and check in with one another, providing advice to volunteers about how to move their volunteering efforts online, organising regular team chats or virtual meetings to help volunteers stay engaged and connected with the organisation.

Can people continue to volunteer during COVID-19?

On June 12, the NSW Minister for Health announced a further easing of restrictions on gatherings and movement. As a result, there are no restrictions on volunteering for a charity or community organisation. Even though the restriction has been lifted it is critical for organisations to continue to manage the risk of exposure to staff and volunteers during this time.  Organisations and staff must observe physical distancing requirements and provide clear instructions about following good hygiene practices. Personal protective equipment is advisable where possible.

The following organisations: NSW Meals on Wheels, Food Bank, St Vincent de Paul, Red Cross and Salvation Army have expressed the need for more volunteers.

If you want to volunteer but don’t want to limit yourself to nursing duties, you can always work for a different area in the hospital, aged care facility or organisation. You can work in a gift shop, deliver books to residents or visit children in the pediatric units. Just because you’re a nurse doesn’t mean you have to volunteer with those particular skills. Now that you know more about being a nursing volunteer, get out there and get involved. You will meet new people, use your hard-earned skills and emotionally and spiritually benefit from your work. By volunteering as a nurse, no matter how big or small, you can change a person’s life for the better.  

COVID-19 has overturned our norms of life, and we are facing a Mental Health Crisis in our community

The impact of COVID-19 in the first half of 2020 has taken the world by surprise. The global coronavirus pandemic has been a traumatic experience for us all, and has completely overturned our norms of life. For Australians, the bushfire catastrophe seems like a distant memory as the coronavirus pandemic sends our community into a state of fear and anxiety, and our economy into shock. 

Yet, like many, we are concerned about the emotional and economic impact this crisis has had on us, especially with experiencing loss of life, loss of jobs, close of businesses, rapid changes to our way of life, social distancing, global economic downturn and the continuous increase in mental health. As the number of coronavirus cases rose across Australia, the level of anxiety and stress within our communities increased. Naturally, we are all concerned about our health and safety, but there is still much uncertainty, and the reality of the pandemic is still in early days. We can expect more rules and changes to our way of life in the coming months and years, and it will continue to be long-term and painful.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Australian government unveiled an economic package to provide aid to businesses and help keep 6 million people in jobs. The economic impact of the Covid-19 health crisis has also led to skyrocketing unemployment, with 1 million Australians unemployed within a week and set to increase. It is devastating, as the economy once dubbed the “wonder down under” is rapidly slipping away. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated for many young and old, 2020 will be the toughest year of our lives.’ Most of us have complied with the rules placed by our government, but the sudden changes to try slow down the spread of this virus with the restrictive measures has induced a considerable amount of fear, worry and panic.

While physical distancing is helping to prevent us from contracting coronavirus, COVID-19 is taking an immeasurable toll on mental health due to numerous factors such as social isolation, financial and healthcare worries, strain of adapting to remote work, home schooling, care for children and elderly. It has also created problems with loneliness, depression, alcohol and drug use, suicide and anxiety. With the loss of face-to-face contact with family and friends, studies show 1 in 10 Australian adults reporting feelings of depression. Children also faced an enormous disruption to their lives, as they were restricted to their homes. As schools closed, the impact of online learning, the sudden split from friends and the disruption of their usual leisure and sport activities. The disruption of routine is especially difficult for young children, who take great comfort in consistency. For many parents working remotely from home, made working time and private time very difficult, due to children distractions and increase in stress.

Loneliness was the most widely reported source of personal stress for Australians during April, according to the third ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey. It reported 1 in 5 people were experiencing difficulties maintaining a healthy lifestyle, 14% consumed more alcohol, 58% spend more time in front the TV, computer and phone, 38% spend more time cooking and 22% stated they were eating more snacks. The shutdown of gyms and closure of beaches also affected fitness levels with 20% of people doing less exercise. A lot of people are losing jobs and getting into financial difficulty, and finances had deteriorated for 1 in 3 households. There are currently 3.3 million Australians who do not receive sick leave entitlements (casual workforce, small business owners) are under financial strain and increased stress levels due to the impact of COVID-19.

Maintaining mental health can be difficult for anyone during trying times like this pandemic crisis. We need to strengthen mental health support systems, especially for health care workers.

Over the past 14 years, it has been clear Australians consider healthcare and health and medical research as high spending priorities for the Australian Government. According to a survey conducted by opinion polling firm Roy Morgan Research 2017, nurses hold the most highly regarded profession in Australia, rating them ‘very high’ for their professional ethics and honesty. The health workforce in Australia is dominated by nurses, and nurses remain at the forefront of patient care. However, their heavy workload can leave them overworked and stressed. Nursing is an important role in our health care system, and during this pandemic crisis, it is becoming increasingly recognised that nurses are feeling more stressed, depressed and anxious than usual. The stress, depression, and anxiety experienced by nursing professionals may not be entirely preventable but realising its prevalence in the workplace is considerably important.

Special consideration needs to be given to front-line health care workers, who are either at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, or in regular and direct contact with patients with COVID-19. They are likely to be experiencing understandable anxiety and concern about exposure to the virus, their own health and the health of their loved ones and colleagues. Studies show that front-line health care workers experience higher anxiety than the general community about contracting viruses during pandemics. To stave off a mental health crisis, the World Health Organization has urged hospitals to think of the pandemic as a long-term situation, and give health care workers breaks and rotate them out of high-stress positions.

Let’s face it, to stop coronavirus we will need to radically change almost everything we do… we can’t go back to the way we live and work, even when a vaccine is found.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to change how we live and work. Under the Australian government’s three-stage plan to achieve a COVID-safe economy, there will be many considerations on how businesses can operate with ongoing restrictions and risk management measures. Employees returning to their workplace should expect a different work environment. Workplaces will implement social distancing policies, HR departments and managers will be a lot more on the frontline, there will be more focus on personal protective equipment (PPE) with regular stock of hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and face masks becoming commonplace, desks will become spaced out, unassigned seating may start to decline, temperature screening could become mandatory and standard office hours could become a thing of the past. Australia’s Chief Medical Officer’ Brendan Murphy has said “the government has urged employers and employees to look at staggered start and finish times, with some starting at 7 o’clock, some starting at 10 o’clock and people finishing at different times.’’

Like in many countries, companies and employees shifted to remote working in order to contain the transmission of COVID-19. Studies show, some people now working remotely have found they prefer it, while many others want to return to their physical office as they have better technology and more distraction free environment than the home office. It’s likely that more Australians will be given the flexibility to split their time between working from home and an office, but instead of commuting every day they are happier to be in the office for only 2-3 days of a 5-day working week. Perhaps there will be a 4-day working week revolution for us all, as it’s currently been trialed in Australia and reporting to be effective and productive.

Looking to the future, digital age and online work will become the new normal. With virtual and digital replacing physical wherever possible; phone calls will become emails, meetings will move to video chat, office buildings will become conference centres and e-learning will become a bigger part of our ongoing learning. Amid social distancing, people are relying on the internet and social media more than ever and many issues are arising that have previously never been faced. The death of real-world interaction could have devastating effects on who we become as social creatures…moving from physical to psychological. It is prudent to indicate that the world has changed many times and it will change once again. All of us will play a role adapting to a new way of living, working and forging relationships.

The first half of 2020 has been impossible to ignore, and as we enter into the second half of 2020, there is still no firm end date in sight.

Winter is here. Have you been flu vaccinated?

Influenza affects about 350,000 Australians every year and the season is expected to ‘peak’ in the coming weeks. Why getting a flu vaccination now will help in the fight against COVID-19. Winter is here. Have you been vaccinated?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalised and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalisations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that although the flu vaccine won’t combat COVID-19, it would help to reduce the severity and spread of seasonal influenza, which can lower a person’s immunity and make them susceptible to other illnesses. “Last year was the longest flu season on record … and now we have COVID-19,”

Australians are being urged to get their flu shot from mid-April — to reduce the risk of a dangerous double-up of seasonal influenza and coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s unclear how much seasonal flu could worsen COVID-19, but experts want to avoid people having both.

Over 2.7 million doses of government-funded influenza vaccines have been delivered in NSW Deliveries of government-funded influenza vaccines commenced on 30 March 2020.  As of 25 May, a record 2.77 million doses have been delivered to immunisation providers in NSW compared to 2.1 million doses at the same time in 2019 and 2.5 million doses for the whole of the 2019 flu season. 1.34 million doses have been delivered for people aged 65 years and over in NSW.

While the vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19, it will reduce your risk of influenza — which kills hundreds of people every year and leads to thousands more hospitalisations. In 2017, a particularly bad season in Australia, the flu caused more than 1,200 deaths (3.9 per 100,000 people).  “The flu vaccine will help reduce the strain on hospitals and lungs — both seasonal influenza and COVID-19 can cause respiratory problems and even pneumonia. You don’t want to get both at the same time”.

What’s the difference between Influenza and COVID-19?

While the early symptoms of the seasonal flu and coronavirus (COVID-19) can be similar — fever and cough, for example — and they are transmitted the same way, there are some key differences. Influenza typically has a shorter incubation period (the time from the infection to when symptoms appear) than COVID-19, which means influenza can spread faster.   The risk of severe illness seems to be higher for COVID-19 than influenza, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease. Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected

Here are some tips you can practice to ensure you, your family and friends stay healthy to minimise the spread of influenza. While there are some concerns about the possibility of Australians contracting coronavirus and winter flu at the same time, it’s not clear to what extent each virus could worsen the other.  Health authorities want to avoid people having a flu at the same time as potentially having coronavirus — so having two infections and the body becoming overwhelmed.

Get vaccinated.

The most important thing that health professionals can do is to get an influenza vaccination. A healthcare & medical study, where 15,203 were surveyed – 62% Australians stated they wanted to get the flu shot in 2020. The flu vaccine is the most important measure you can take to prevent influenza and its complications. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says the timing of the vaccination is just as important as having it. Typically, flu season affects Australia from June to September, peaking in August. The RACGP says recent evidence suggests that protection following flu vaccination may begin to wear off after three to four months, so timing of the vaccination is critical.

Educate people

The flu itself might not seem like a serious illness, it has proven to have life-threatening consequences for anyone with frail or compromised health, and minimising its ability to spread is highly important. “If people are generally taking good precautions, washing their hands and so on, not only could coronavirus be reduced, but other infections too. “Social distancing behaviours will help slow the spread both of COVID-19 and the flu.”

You can help fight these global killers by:

Washing your hands well and often; practising social distancing (such as keeping 1.5 metres away from others); avoiding public or non-essential gatherings; avoiding non-essential travel; knowing when and how to self-isolate. Other preventive measures include:
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol hand rub
  • cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze – use a tissue or your elbow, not your hands
  • bin your used tissues straight away
  • stay at home when you are ill.

When should I get vaccinated?

You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begins spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. It’s important to be protected early on when the flu season kicks off, but also several months later, when flu activity peaks. Getting vaccinated early is likely to be associated with reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season, particularly among older adults.

In order to achieve the highest level of protection during peak flu season, the Australian Department of Health recommends people get vaccinated from mid-April. “Receiving a vaccination from April provides optimal protection from influenza ahead of the peak period of influenza circulation, which typically occurs from June to September in most parts of Australia.”

If you get the flu shot: it can keep you from getting sick with flu; you can avoid spreading it to at-risk people; you can avoid feeling awful yourself; and you can avoid having to put your life on hold.

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine. During seasons where one or more of the circulating influenza virus strains shows significant drift away from the vaccine strains, influenza vaccine effectiveness in the community is usually reduced. Flu vaccines can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working age adults and older adults. it is also an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions, helps protect women during and after pregnancy and shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. ​

It is not possible for the flu vaccine to give you influenza, as the vaccine does not contain any live viruses. Sometimes the normal side effects of getting a vaccine feel similar to early influenza symptoms. The side effects are a sign the vaccine is triggering an immune response, which is what it is designed to do.

Annual influenza vaccination for healthcare professionals is important and free for all NSW Health workers. Healthcare workers are at greater risk of infection because of their contact with patients and increased risk of virus transmission via droplets, contaminated surfaces, and potentially aerosolised particles due to their work. Protecting healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and flu season is a priority to ensure that their own, their patients, and the wider community are safe from infection.

The risk of spreading influenza virus in aged care settings can be very serious. Aged care facility residents are vulnerable to influenza due to co-morbidities, advanced age and the environment of communal living. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NSW Health and Department of Health and Human Services Victoria have mandated that from 1 May 2020, anyone entering a residential aged care facility is required to provide appropriate evidence of flu vaccination. 

Follow Doctor’s orders..

Take care of yourself and encourage family and friends to do the same. Fresh citrus fruits and green veggies, exercise, and early nights can do wonders to restore your body’s health, especially after a long day attending to a steady stream of sick patients. Taking time away from work to do things you like and create a healthy work/life balance is good for your immune system and your mental health too. Making sure you’re properly hydrated is a must. Take your own advice – the minute you feel the symptoms of a cold or flu, don’t be a martyr, stay at home for as long as necessary.

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to preventing the spread of flu and other diseases. The more people are flu vaccinated in the community, the less likely it is for the disease to spread. Diseases can travel quickly through a community and make a lot of people sick…so the more people who get the flu shot, the fewer opportunities for it to spread. We must each do our parts to limit everyone’s exposure to any diseases.

Everyone is encouraged to get a flu shot.

Values we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic

‘Coronavirus, COVID-19, Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic,  2019-nCoV’ are some keywords I have been hearing in just about every conversation. I am quite guilty of it myself.  Whilst COVID-19 holds an unprecedented challenge in front of us, the pandemic has kept us home with enough time to brood over some of life’s endless lessons. Undoubtedly, the spread of the coronavirus has changed the way we all live and work.  We can deeply empathise with the grief many people are experiencing, and it is vital for us to come out of this pandemic as better individuals and a more tightly-knit community. It’s definitely certain that we won’t remain the same after the pandemic passes.

It is important to maintain some optimism during these times, as the glass may seem half empty. I think otherwise. If you are like me, then you’ve probably developed several redefined thought patterns about life, including new views of things, work, people, strengths and weaknesses too. I have thought of a few lessons outlined below that I believe COVID-19 will have hopefully taught us all, by the end of this nationwide lock down.

Patience is a Virtue

Cambridge English dictionary defines Patience as ‘the ability to wait, or to continue doing something despite difficulties to suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed” Not something I will say, is my biggest strength. I am realising now, I was enjoying all the hustle and liveliness that Sydney had to offer. As a typical person, I have enjoyed life, the outdoors, visiting family, socialising with friends and travelling to work. This isolation period is tough, as I miss visiting my family, hanging out with friends, travelling to work, meeting with my clients or even maintaining social work connections with our nurses which is an important part of our business.

Patience in the pandemic of COVID-19.

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” – Jodi Picoult. We can be knocked down by life, tough times and challenges, but we can come back stronger than ever through patience, strength and determination.

As we have discovered after weeks isolated at home, the lockdowns have given us all a great chance to sit back and learn how time is the one constant during this pandemic. That no matter how grim everything seems right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it will only come with time. Time is our most precious asset and there’s never been a more necessary time to learn. This time of patience will teach us to plan better and bounce back stronger than ever.

Leadership Through Resilience

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” ― Elizabeth Edwards

COVID-19 is affecting our health care community in unprecedented ways. This pandemic has brought out a trait that is one of the most important qualities for individuals and communities – RESILIENCE. It feels as if we can get through this, we can get through any road that lies ahead.

Workers and employers have now gained skills of adaptability and strength. Most of all, these trying times have seen everyone showcasing some accountability and self-leadership. It has been amazing to see businesses take action in order to support our frontline healthcare professionals with donations, food and care.

The virus will pave the way for all individuals, communities and governments in the future to be more resilient and show better leadership during a crisis.

Compassion, Collaboration & Appreciation

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are, and will be defined by choices. Those choices should be based upon values: compassion, collaboration, cooperation and appreciation.

From the toilet-paper hoarding to profiteering from essential items of need, we have also seen a lot of self-centered behaviour through the weeks. I believe this was a blessing in disguise, in the form of a learning opportunity. After looking at the damage this has done to those in need, the COVID-19 situation will teach us to tackle future problems with a community-first mindset. The generations going through this will be able to give guidance and perspective to future generations about how to act during the time of crisis. Let’s ensure that the stories that will be told are of compassion and coming together: countering the fear and blame.

We have learnt that this is about ‘WE’, not me.  We want, we need and we deserve from this experience that deep lessons are quickly learnt. The world is wildly connected, once we accept this, then we can plan for future pandemics.

The struggle to contain the coronavirus is our number one priority as people, as an organisation and community. Life and death decisions are not only being made by doctors and nurses, but by each and everyone of us. Our collaborative effort in social distancing – together.  An oxymoron of sorts. BPNA cannot be prouder of the team effort that Australians have exemplified which has helped slow down the spread of infections. The pandemic has made the old cliché ring true; every person counts. We have learned to be mindful of each action, or we could end up being a risk to someone else. Each and everyone of us holds a piece of the better world we need, where compassion, collaboration and cooperation are the keys.

I would have never thought I would be washing my hands this much. I have taken so much caution in washing and sanitising my hands. I am certain so many of us have changed our hand-washing habits since the outbreak made headlines.

Lets face it, Coronavirus has changed the world permanently. We have learnt to take a step back and appreciate life, especially for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. But for us Australians, we started to appreciate life long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since the bush fires ravaged across Australia, we have been greatly impressed with our community’s reaction in the appreciative efforts for all firefighters, health care professionals, police and our community. The frontline health professionals have done an outstanding job showing selflessness and courage for us all. They have made us all very proud to call ourselves Australian. The Australian fighting spirit still continues…‘at war with a virus’

Today, nearing the end of April, the future seems a little more reassuring. As with each passing day, our country is slowly progressing and flattening the Coronavirus curve. The trying times will pass quickly and a new chapter will unfold. We will have learnt lessons from this that will last a lifetime, and hopefully the next generation will be able to learn from our strengths and our mistakes. I can say, we have all gained new insights about how to work together effectively – global solidarity. None of us want to face another crisis like this again.

What I have learnt – that the rapid global spread of a COVID-19 has taught us that we are all interconnected in terms of our health and well-being. What I hope – human capacity to overcome this pandemic together is limitless.

BPNA wishes everyone across the world to continue to stay safe, and we offer our deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this. For many of us this is a really difficult time, although this will be temporary, we can’t relax just yet. It’s time for us all to be true global citizens and stand with the people in our communities. Let’s continue to learn new lessons..

Here’s to a better tomorrow.  Stay Safe!