While there has been some controversy around the introduction of interRAI in New Zealand residential aged care facilities, St Andrew’s Village in Glendowie, Auckland, has discovered that a flexible approach to interRAI training has made all the difference.

St Andrew’s Village were early adopters of interRAI assessment tool. They began their training in June 2012. The village has a 180 bed residential care rest home and hospital facility. Clinical managers Julie Mendoza and

Carmen Stadler Hanekom are in charge of 90 beds each.

Mendoza says the village has been able to adapt its interRAI training to suit their size and requirements.

“When we first started our training, our idea was to do the ‘Train the Trainer’ model, but given the size of the facility we found that we were too busy to do this, so we approached the interRAI trainers, Sam Abbott and

Claire Tovey, who were flexible in changing the training to suit us.”

Since then, St Andrew’s Village has utilised many different styles of training.

interRAI trainer Sam Abbott agrees that a flexible approach is necessary.

“I think it’s important to be flexible with the training and styles of training within each environment in order to achieve the best outcomes. At St Andrew’s, we have facilitated classroom training for their staff both on and off site and also some training at the local hospital depending on the need at the time,” says Abbott.

Mendoza says that at St Andrew’s, they look at each staff member as an individual nurse and respond to their training needs.

“We find the younger nurses are more receptive and pick up learning the software quicker. With the nurses that are struggling, we give those nurses one-on-one training,” she says.

“InterRAI trainer Sam Abbott works well with us. If there is a problem and someone is falling behind, Sam will spend more time with the individual who is struggling.”

Mendoza says there is an emphasis on encouraging people’s strengths. “We look at them as individuals.”

To date, 23 nurses in total have been trained across the St Andrew’s site with nine more left to be trained. St Andrew’s plan to complete their training by March 2014.

While some critics have lamented the time and money spent on interRAI, Mendoza is excited by what can be achieved with the assessment tool.

“We believe that the prime value of interRAI is to help standardise the quality of resident assessments across the whole of our facility and help remove the subjective differences which have existed between different clinical areas in the past. Ultimately, interRAI can help to standardise assessments on a local, regional and even national level, which is what really excites me.

“What I am already seeing is that people are now starting to come into aged care having had a prior interRAI assessment as part of their community care. This means that we are getting more information about the residents and are better informed at the outset when preparing their initial care plans.

“One of the beneficial spin-offs of introducing laptops for interRAI into each of our 6 clinical areas is that we have also improved general communication within the facility and we even now gone down the route of having all our clinical policies available via intranet as opposed to paper manuals; this has helped the staff become more current in their practice.

“I see interRAI as a positive move forward in the provision of aged care within New Zealand. Nurses are a fairly mobile population, and having a common assessment tool will allow them to transfer their skills between different facilities and even between residential and community based services.”

So far, St Andrew’s has assessed 72 of their 180 residents using the new system.

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