Grant for researcher working at the coalface of care

Graduate researcher Jennifer Boak has received a $5000 grant from the Australian College of Nursing to continue her work in detecting complex care needs in older people.

“As older people live longer, and often with multi-morbidities, their care becomes more complex,” Jennifer says.

“Detection of complexity in routine care is inconsistent and dependent upon nurses’ clinical judgment. This impacts on the quality of care and how supports are allocated to assist older people to remain independent in their home.”

Jennifer is researching the benefits of using a standardised tool – the Patient Complexity Instrument (PCI) – in addition to usual assessments, to enhance nurses’ clinical judgement of complexity.

The Centaur Nurses Memorial Education Trust grant will allow her to run workshops within the Loddon Mallee Region for district nursing services and community allied health to develop a complimentary resource tool kit for the PCI.

“The workshops will include an introduction to the Patient Complexity Instrument (PCI),” Jennifer says. “Workshops will also develop a resource toolkit that is transferable across the region to support the PCI.”

Frontline work highlights need for Jennifer’s research

Jennifer’s research was inspired by her experience as the Community Nursing Services Manager at Bendigo Health.

“I kept hearing staff say people are getting more complex, we don’t have enough time for the unknown. This triggered a conversation with La Trobe around a research project to explore complexity.”

Jennifer says working full time in a busy role and studying part time has its challenges. So, how does she do it?

“I applied for study leave, which has helped give me breaks from work along the way. I have also used my annual leave in a couple of small blocks to complete course work or attend research opportunities offered by La Trobe. I also have a very supportive husband and family; my daughter is very good at editing my work!”

Jennifer has been supported with scholarships to take part in a qualitative research course in April and a facilitation workshop this year. “I have also presented my project at a variety of forums and will be presenting at an international conference in 2021 with the author of the PCI, who is from Wales,” she says.

Adding to these impressive achievements in this challenging year, Jennifer also maintains a role as a personal trainer.

“I am up early to train myself and my members, which sets me up for the day,” she says. “I also do yoga and mindfulness, which has helped keep me grounded.

“When I am struggling with progress or motivation, I go back to why I started this work. And that is to support the staff to do their job in a way that is evidence based. I am passionate about improving care for people living at home.”

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