Beyond the Teaching Nursing Home: A Community Partnership of Learning and Care Community Conversation

A learning area was created in the unoccupied space of Bethanie Joondanna Nursing Home. This area was refurbished to facilitate health professional education and training. This clinical learning environment is located within the same grounds as two residential aged care hostels and independent living units. The project manager, on advice from the Program staff decided to hold a community conversation with the residents. This was an opportunity to provide information about the project and to seek feedback on how it would be best to engage with residents.

Who attended the community conversation?

All residents of the hostel and the independent living units were sent a formal invitation and, although many did not return RSVPs, 35 residents and one carer ranging in age from 54 to 92 attended.

How was the community conversation set up?

On advice from the manager and the staff at the unit (who were already involved in the project) the community conversation was arranged for a day when the residents usually held meetings. It was held in the lunch hall of the hostel as it was easy for residents of the hostel and independent living units to attend. 

Each table had a facilitator who recorded the discussions. The community conversation was facilitated by Involvement Program staff and the project leader gave a short presentation about the project.

Residents discussed the plans and answered a set of questions with the facilitator recording the responses on butcher’s paper so that everyone could see what had been written. Hostel staff members were available to help residents to understand the project and give their feedback. At the end of the question session feedback was given by each of the facilitators. Afternoon tea was provided and many residents stayed at the end and discussed the process with the researchers.

Why did you hold a community conversation?

For the project to work it was important that residents volunteered so that students could gain experience of communicating with older people whilst carrying out mock assessments.

The aim of the community conversation was to provide information to the residents about the project and the activities that they would be able to volunteer for. The information had to be accessible to residents, in plain language and in a format that residents could understand.

Residents told researchers the best ways to keep them informed, which would maximise the opportunities to volunteer and increases the likelihood of the project succeeding.

What worked well or didn’t work so well?

Not all residents were able to hear the initial presentation so facilitators had to explain it again without the use of the presentation slides to help them.

Limited space between tables made it difficult for all residents to be able to hear what the facilitators and other people on the table were saying. Background noise interfered with the effectiveness of hearing aids. Working with smaller groups would enable better communication

Comments from consumers

"We were not talked down to"