Advocating for older Australians

Leonie’s passion for quality aged care

Leonie’s interest in nursing began when her grandmother became unwell, and Leonie saw firsthand how older people can be treated in care. This interest turned to a passion as she delved into researching the best ways to support and treat Australia’s rapidly ageing population.

‘The older adult and their ageing processes amaze me. After all it’s inevitable, we all age.’

Leonie gained her Bachelor of Nursing as a mature-aged student, then chose emergency medicine as her specialty. She decided to go back to studying, and completed a Graduate Certificate in Aged Care. Wanting to further her interest and understanding in aged care, Leonie then began a Master of Gerontology with QUT Online. She would like to better advocate for her older patients in the emergency department at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

‘While I am not academic, the older adult interests me immensely, and they need a voice whilst in the ED. If I can facilitate theirs and their family’s journey throughout the ED without the difficulty so many families are confronted with, my job is done.’

Her determination to provide quality, safe, research-based care has earned Leonie much professional recognition, including being a finalist for a QNMU Professional Practice Award in the Research and Innovation category. The nomination acknowledges Leonie’s work and research into a therapeutic activity kit designed to assist with the prevention of delirium and responsive behaviours in patients with dementia. To continue her research in the ED, Leonie has been granted funding through the Rosemary Bryant Foundation with a seeding loan by HESTA and a fellowship from Health Innovation, Investment Office.

Not wanting to leave her crucial role in the emergency department to learn on-campus, Leonie decided to study a Master of Gerontology online, so that she could continue working as an emergency nurse while gaining her masters qualification.

‘The reason I chose online is that I work a rotating roster, and it’s more convenient for myself to study at home at my own pace. If I don’t want to get dressed, I don’t have to. If I’ve had a busy night shift, I can just have a shower, then read through the next modules.’

Leonie now works 64 hours per fortnight in the emergency department, and studies online part-time. This allows her to balance the needs of her patients, her course load and spending time with her family: her husband, three children, two dogs and an anti-social cat named Morgan.

On completing her course, Leonie is interested in becoming an aged care facility accreditor. ‘I would love to go to nursing facilities and inspect their premises to ensure our older adults are being cared for,’ she said. In this role, she aims to educate other nurses on the correct treatment of older people, improve aged care industry standards and champion the rights and wellbeing of older people like her grandmother.

Are you interested in caring for older people? QUT offers three courses in aged care: the Graduate Certificate in Aged Care, the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology and the Master of Gerontology. Get in touch with our Course Consultants to explore which course is right for you.

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