University Of Tasmania

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Using action research to build mentor capacity to improve orientation and quality of nursing student aged care placements: what to do when the phone rings

Aims and objectives: To describe if an action research approach can be used to build capacity of residential aged care facility staff to support undergraduate nursing students' clinical placements in residential aged care facilities, using development of an orientation program as an exemplar.

Background: Aged care facilities are unpopular sites for nursing student clinical placements. A contributing factor is the limited capacity of staff to provide students with a positive placement experience. Strategies to build mentor capability to shape student placements and support learning and teaching are critical if nursing students are to have positive placements that attract them to aged care after graduation; an imperative given the increasing care needs of the ageing population world-wide.

Design: Action research approach employing mixed methods data collection (primarily qualitative with a quantitative component).

Methods: Aged care facility staff (n = 32) formed a mentor group at each of two Tasmanian facilities and met regularly to support undergraduate nursing students (n = 40) during placements. Group members planned, enacted, reviewed and reflected on orientation procedures to welcome students, familiarise them with the facility and prepare them for their placement. Data comprised transcripts from these and parallel student meetings, and orientation data from student questionnaires from two successive placement periods (2011/2012).

Results: Problems were identified in the orientation processes for the initial student placements. Mentors implemented a revised orientation program. Evaluation demonstrated improved program outcomes for students regarding knowledge of facility operations, their responsibilities and emergency procedures.

Conclusion: Action research provides an effective approach to engage aged care facility staff to build their capacity to support clinical placements.

Relevance to clinical practice: Building capacity in the aged care workforce is vital to provide appropriate care for residents with increasing care needs.


Publication title

Journal of Clinical Nursing










Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the health sciences