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

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. 

Who is on the reference group?

The Reference Group has eight to ten members including;

  • Six to eight residents from Bethanie Joondanna hostels and independent living units
  • Two staff
  • Two students
  • The Project Manager

Residents, staff and students were invited to self-nominate to be part of the reference group.

How did you establish the reference group?

In order to start to build a relationship with residents at the Bethanie grounds a community conversation was held in the main dining room of the Bethanie hostel. All residents (including those in independent living units) were invited.

Throughout the course of the community conversation residents were told about the opportunity of joining the Reference Group. Interested residents then nominated to become a member.

When setting up the initial meeting it was important to make sure that residents were available to attend as many residents undertook volunteer work. Meetings lasted no more than two hours and members were provided with hard copies of the documents as not all members had access to printers.

Why did you establish a reference group?

The Reference Group was to provide:

  • A consumer perspective and bring insight into issues that affect health professional education including the volunteer and patient experience
  • Ongoing advice and guidance regarding issues of importance to health professional education relating to the project


We thought that there was a lot more interaction between the hostel residents and the independent living residents, but the reference group advised this was not the case. Residents suggested that there were notice boards in two places to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to be involved with the project.

What worked well or didn’t work so well?

Communication was a challenge and required a number of different strategies to increase the opportunity for participants to volunteer to take part in the study. This included having a notice board where a time table of activities could be displayed and alerting staff to upcoming activities so that they could make residents aware of the opportunities.

The Reference Group also alerted project staff about days out organised by the Bethanie staff and any activities held on those days would likely be poorly attended.

The project was recognised with a UWA Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015