RACGP aged care clinical guide (Silver Book)

Silver Book - Part C

Teaching and mentoring in aged care

Last revised: 22 Jul 2023

Having education and exposure to aged care is important for medical students, GP registrars and GP fellows. The healthcare needs of older people can be complex; therefore, training and support need to address a variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • chronic health conditions
  • medication management
  • multimorbidity
  • palliative care
  • working with a multidisciplinary team
  • abuse of older people
  • older person’s mental health
  • CALD patient support
  • culturally safe care
  • fitness to drive
  • medico-legal legislation
  • advance care directives
  • end-of-life legislation
  • certification of death.

Not all GP registrars are exposed to aged care facilities during their training.1 Although it is reasonable to expect that all registrars will have been exposed to caring for older people during their previous working experience, many will not have visited aged care facilities.

It is anticipated that all GP registrars will develop skills and knowledge in providing care for older people through the 2022 RACGP curriculum and syllabus for Australian general practice learning module Older person’s health. It is expected that if a GP registrar is working in a GP practice that visits aged care facilities, they will participate and the supervisor will provide teaching opportunities in the facility. It is important that consent is provided by patients and their families so that they are aware of the level of education of the GP registrar.

Learning in aged care

GPs in training have cited reduced confidence in approaching RACF work due to the lack of exposure to RACF patient care.2 Therefore, it is important that GP supervisors provide teaching opportunities and support to increase exposure to aged care. An example of how GPs in training can be exposed to aged care is to encourage them to complete 75-year-old health checks that are usually completed by practice nurses. This provides an opportunity for GPs in training to build an understanding of the common chronic conditions that arise at these checks, as well as a supportive environment for them to discuss management of multimorbidity and clinical decision making with their supervisors.

Learning in aged care facilities

For trainees in practices that provide services in RACFs, experience can also be built by the supervisor allocating them one or two residents for regular visits and ongoing care.

Increasing people’s understanding of how RACFs work is important for inspiring future workforce in aged care. There are many opportunities for teaching and mentoring in aged care, which include:

  • general practice lectures at Australian universities
  • supporting medical student placements
  • supporting GP registrar placements
  • working with hospitals to raise awareness of the GP role in aged care
  • integrating GPs into hospital teams.

Many universities have medical student placements in general practices that may expose students to aged care facility visits. It is encouraged that GPs who visit aged care facilities take medical students with them as a learning opportunity. 

GPs who are teaching medical students in an RACF may be eligible for PIP teaching payments

Some other programs that increase medical student exposure to aged care include:

  1. Magin P, Catzikiris N, Tapley A, et al. Home visits and nursing home visits by early-career GPs: A cross-sectional study. Fam Pract. 2017;34(1):77–82.
  2. Pearson R, Mullan J, Ujvary E, Bonney A, Dijkmans-Hadley B. Australian general practitioner attitudes to residential aged care facility visiting. Health Soc Care Community 2018;26:e497–504.
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