Ms Caitlin Saunders1, Ms Juliet Bociulis2, Ms Caryn Batchelor2, Ms Kacey Rubie2
1Public Health Services DHHS, Hobart, Australia, 2Public Health Services DHHS, Launceston, Australia
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) is a federal government initiative which helps older people to stay living independently and in their homes for as long as possible. CHSP staff and volunteers have close, regular contact with older people. They are in a unique position to identify potential health issues as they arise, ensuring that older Tasmanians get support to maintain and improve their wellbeing sooner.
Many CHSP services (such as day respite centres, and in-home care services) find it hard to offer face-to-face professional development for their staff and volunteers. Part-time roles, shift-work, and client needs can make it hard to get everyone together for training, and an innovative approach is needed.
Dietitians at Public Health Services, DHHS developed a ‘nutrition for older people’ online training package, to make it easier for CHSP service staff and volunteers to undertake professional development in a flexible and convenient way.
The ‘nutrition for older people’ online training was launched in April 2017, and since then 83 participants have fully completed the training, with a further 86 in progress. Evaluation results indicate a high level of satisfaction with the online training (average 4.3/5), with most participants (89%) stating they would like to undertake further nutrition professional development online.
Online training also led to an intention to change practice, with 51/83 respondents (61%) describing things they will do differently as a result of training. Examples of intended practice changes included ‘being more proactive with malnutrition’, ‘keeping an eye out for nutrition changes in clients’, and ‘pushing for a nutrition review of every client we see’.
These results indicate that online professional development can be a useful adjunct to face-to-face training, and is an innovative way to upskill staff and volunteers to identify and help manage nutrition issues in older people who live at home.
Caitlin has worked as a community dietitian for 7 years, with a focus on older adult nutrition since 2014. She is passionate about the role of nutrition in preventive health; and works with respite centres, day centres and delivered meal programs to support older adults to remain living independently at home. When she isn’t talking about food at work, she loves growing fruit and veggies in her back yard, and cooking for friends.