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Provider and university partner to enhance teaching and research

Moran Health managing director Peter Moran (left) and University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker sign an agreement to build an aged care facility on campus. (Photo: Michelle McAulay)

Moran Health managing director Peter Moran (left) and University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker sign the agreement. Photo: Michelle McAulay

The University of Canberra and Moran Health Care Group have announced plans to build a residential aged care facility on the university’s Bruce campus to provide an ideal learning environment for students.

The 150-bed facility, expected to be constructed by early 2018, will be owned and operated by Moran Health Care Group and include secure dementia care, palliative care and respite. The facility will also house a 120-place childcare centre.

The aged care facility forms just one part of the university’s broader plan to develop a growing health precinct on campus. This precinct includes the upcoming University of Canberra Public Hospital and the existing Health Hub, which contains a GP Super Clinic, pharmacy, medical imaging service and student-led clinics.

Dean of the Faculty of Health Diane Gibson said that bringing a range of healthcare providers onto campus helped to encourage collaboration across both teaching and research, and that an aged care facility would provide an ideal learning environment for students.

“It is just a good match,” Professor Gibson told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“The Health Faculty at the University of Canberra teaches physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, public health, counselling and nutrition and dietetics – all very relevant for aged care.”

Given the ageing population and disproportionate rates of illness in older people, the learning opportunities that arose for students would be valuable whether or not they chose to work in aged care after graduation, said Professor Gibson. For example, aged care offered pharmacy students opportunities to learn about complex medication regimes across multiple chronic conditions, something that may not be possible in an acute hospital setting.

There was also potential for work placements for students from other disciplines such as management, marketing and communications.

Having students present in the facility also had potential benefits for residents, said Professor Gibson, noting it was often overlooked that students had potentially more time to spend with residents than clinical staff.

“Students can really be an asset in the clinical environment,” she said. “You can have more focused attention when you have students working with clinical professional staff, whether it’s in a hospital or a residential aged care service.”

Beyond this, Professor Gibson said she hoped that students would be encouraged to take up paid employment opportunities on site.

“I’m very much hoping as we develop this partnership… that we’ll have students perhaps working as a Cert III or Cert IV aged care worker on a weekend,” she said. “It fits in with a full-time pattern of study and it provides opportunity to work in the industry that they’re training for.”

Research possibilities

There was the expectation the aged care development would provide a range of research opportunities for the university’s Health Research Institute.

“That is something we are very keen to do. Industry partnerships are really important for universities if they want their research work to be taken up and implemented,” said Professor Gibson.

She noted potential areas for research as including ageing and aged care service provision, as well as other discipline-led research, such as the role of exercise in maximising independence and quality of life.

Professor Gibson also said that an on-campus aged care facility would also facilitate opportunities for the university’s staff to remain clinically current, and likewise, would offer aged care staff further educational and training opportunities.

The UC Moran Health Cluster is also expected to incorporate a small-scale private hospital, a radiological oncology service, a large-scale diagnostic and imaging service, pathology services and laboratory-based research facilities.

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