Ageism is prevalent in many areas of Western culture, with healthcare institutions being described by some as ageist due to an expectation that older people will fit into a system that has not been designed with their complex needs in mind. Yet, people over the age of 65 make up the population that is most likely to use healthcare systems due to the increased incidence of chronic conditions associated with aging. The size of this population is expected to double by 2050 (according to the United Nations), highlighting the importance and urgency of educating nursing students about the needs of this group.
Nurses who work with older people often hold negative perspectives towards them, due in part to a perception within the nursing community that working with older people is a low status job requiring few technical skills or specialized knowledge. A study conducted in Canada, and recently published in the International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, investigated nursing students’ perspectives towards older people with a view to informing improved educational practices.
The researchers used Burbank’s “Perceptions of Caring for Older People” scale – a 9-item questionnaire asking participants to respond on a 5-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” – to survey 370 nursing students. Questions are designed to reliably rate nurses’ attitudes towards older people in a healthcare setting, with a higher score reflecting a more positive perception.
Findings revealed that students’ perceptions were, on average, positive towards older people, but at the lowest point in the third year of their program, coinciding with them having had four experiences, or clinical rotations, caring for older people. This may have been due to several factors, such as students not feeling well-enough prepared for technically demanding clinical rotations where they must apply prior learning under complex circumstances.
Perspectives on this topic rose again in the students’ fourth year and fifth clinical rotation, and were also higher in older students. The authors conclude that more research is needed to better understand where in nursing programs to include learning strategies that would bust myths about aging and enhance knowledge about the complex health challenges that older people face.
Read the original article here:
Sherry Dahlke, Sandra Davidson, Uira Duarte Wisnesky, Maya R. Kalogirou, Vince Salyers, Cheryl Pollard, Mary T. Fox, Kathleen F. Hunter and Jennifer Baumbusch: Student Nurses’ Perceptions About Older People, 01.10.2019.