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A critical shortage of community nurses to be addressed in new project by CANR

Lead researcher, Nicole Blay

In the next decade, the community sector faces a critical shortage of community nurses. To address this issue, the ‘Cast-a-Net’ research project, funded by a WSU-SWSLHD Primary and Community Health Partnership Grant and run by the Centre for Applied Nursing Research (CANR), is currently examining the workload of community nurses in South West Sydney. Using the results of the research, the aim is to develop a workforce plan and program to bring new nurses into the community sector.

Western Sydney University/SWSLHD Research Fellow, Nicole Blay, who heads the project explains that the role of community nurses has changed significantly over the past decade due to both an ageing population and a decrease in the time patients stay in hospital before being discharged.

“As more people recover from illness or surgery in their own homes, the need for community nursing will continue to increase. However, with over half the community nurses ready to retire within the next decade, we will have a critical shortage in skilled community nurses. So, we really need to address this issue now,” Nicole explains.

The time and motion study aims to explore the work and workload of community nurses in five community health centres in SWSLHD.

“The first of these centres is in Rosemeadow, making Rosemeadow nurses the first in Australia to participate in this unique study,” says Nicole.

The study involves observing community nurses undertaking their daily activities. All activities are recorded and timed by a nurse observer who enters the data into a data collection tool at the time of observation.

“This information is vital for future workforce planning and to ensure that graduate and experienced nurses are recruited, trained and supported to work in the community sector,” Nicole says.

“With this project we aim to increase exposure to community nursing and, in doing so, will “cast-a-net” and attract new graduates to consider this nursing pathway.”

By: Linda Music