Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Spt-Oct 2015 Contents Jo-Anne Coughlan
In her day job, Jo-Anne
Coughlan wears two
hats. As the learning and
with Juniper Annesley aged
care, she acts as a link between
the facility and Curtin University
regarding students on placement
and research opportunities,
and she coordinates the mentor
program that supports student
and staff learning. Second, as
inter-professional placement coordinator, a
position employed through Curtin University,
Coughlan is involved in the coordination of
health science students on site at Annesley.
Coughlan has been nursing since
1973, when she commenced her general
nursing training in NSW. Since then she
has worked in a number of clinical areas
such as neurosurgery, infection control
and nurse management positions. She has
held quality improvement and clinical risk
positions in NSW and WA.
She has completed several postgraduate
courses including a graduate diploma in
intensive care nursing and a graduate
certificate in remote health practice.
Coughlan moved into an aged care
management role in 2008, initially because
she needed a job having moved from the
Kimberley, but she soon found the sector
"reignited my passion for nursing as it
enabled me to use all the skills
and knowledge I had gained
since I started nursing."
Coughlan is currently further
developing those skills and
knowledge by undertaking a
Master of Philosophy in Nursing
through Curtin University.
"My research is looking at
dignity therapy in the aged care
setting to see if it can assist with
the transition of residents who
have minimal or no cognitive impairment
into residential aged care. As a research
study the information is gathered through
interviews with resident, staff and
families," she says.
Coughlan started the program in 2012
after attending a workshop in dignity
therapy. She hopes to finish in June 2016.
She says she is enjoying learning about
the realities of the research process and
the impact that it can have on participants
and the research community.
Time is the most challenging aspect of
undertaking the program, Coughlan says,
as she has to continue working. "There
are many days I would rather spend doing
my research that go to work. I also find
that colleagues in the acute sector are
at times not interested in aged care and
the research than is happening. I find
this not only challenging to accept but
disappointing professionally," she says.
Coughlan says she needs to spend at
least 20 hours per week on her course in
order to be effective "but most weeks this
is impossible to achieve."
Asked how she is achieving a balance
between study, work and personal
commitments, Coughlan says she has "an
extremely supportive family."
"As a wife, mother and grandmother I
need to make sure that I am fulfilling my
responsibilities in these roles to a level
that I am comfortable with. In saying
this though, my husband and children
(including partners) all have strong beliefs
in education and the advantages and
opportunities that occur with education.
"We are a family of students at the
moment as my husband is doing his masters,
my son and daughter are completing their
undergraduate degrees, another son is
looking at starting his masters in the next
couple of years and his partner is about to
start a masters program."
Discussing what she is hoping to
achieve through her course, Coughlan
says she would like to be able to
influence change in aged care through
research and education.
She says she would encourage those in
aged care to undertake study opportunities.
"It can be very daunting to begin with but
very much worth the effort."
Jo-Anne Coughlan's masters examines the transition of seniors
who have minimal or no cognitive impairment into residential care.
Exploring the voice of the elder
Julie Simpson wants to use her PhD to
develop a teaching approach to facilitate
the work of other chaplains.
in this vocation in an educative function
and environment," says Simpson, who is
undertaking a PhD at Flinders University.
Her research topic is The Voice of the
Elder in residential aged care from multi-
disciplinary perspectives, and as an aspect
of their spiritual dimension, their identity
Julie Simpson says she hopes
her study will enhance her
understanding of the deeper needs,
motivations and perspectives of
older people. "I wish to use this
knowledge to develop a teaching approach
to facilitate the work of other chaplains
and their wellbeing, she says. "Particularly
I am looking at how chaplains may make
this a focus of their pastoral care."
Simpson is currently chaplain (pastoral
care) at St Pauls Lutheran Homes,
Hahndorf, South Australia, where she
provides spiritual care for 81 residents.
"My role takes me into pastoral
palliative care with the elder and their
loved ones, and onto bereavement care of
the other residents and family in funeral
services and pastoral support."
Simpson always had a particular
48 | SEPTEMBER -- OCTOBER 2015 | AAA
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