PhD student turned sorrow into study with research to improve aged care practices

Published:21 October 2020

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student Ainslie Monson saw the need for greater research into the experiences of adult children with parents in residential aged care facilities after she felt excluded during her own parents care.

Australians are fortunate to be living longer than ever before, but this has not come without a new set of challenges for families as ageing parents with complex care needs and co-morbidities often need the services of residential aged care facilities (RACF).

These difficult situations often require shared-decision making between adult children and nursing staff, which CQUniversity Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student Ainslie Monson experienced during her own parents care and led her to realise further research is needed into the experiences of adult children with parents in these facilities.

“As we get older, so do our parents. It can be difficult to comprehend that one day the roles will be reversed, and we will need to look after the people that have cared for us our whole lives,” Ms Monson said.

“I was forced into that situation myself during my parents’ illness and death from cancer.”

As a nurse, Ms Monson strives to provide extra care, support, and information to the families of the cancer patients she looks after, unfortunately, this was not the experience she received throughout the care of her parents.

“I understand how imperative it is to provide families with important information about their loved one’s health care. This involves them in their care, and the opportunity to assist in decisions about their family’s health care,” she said.

“During my parents' illness and death, many health care decisions were required- however, it became apparent to me that I was not offered or included in making decisions about my parents’ treatments.

“This left me feeling vulnerable, uninformed, and significantly stressed.”

She acknowledged that while her journey was a complicated one, it highlighted that improvement is needed in the practices of residential aged care facilities with disparities in the care alongside the disconnect between the health professionals and her family.

“I want to understand other people’s experiences around the types of communication they have with the staff in RACFs, the challenges they face and how their experience could be improved.”

“This will be achieved through interviews with adult children who currently have a parent/s in a Queensland RACF.”

Ms Monson hoped her research will not only help to understand how adult children participate in shared decision making and the types of decisions they are required to make, but to improve current practices.

“Findings from these interviews will inform decision-making practices to assist in encouraging a patient-centered approach and improve communication and safe quality nursing care in RACFs.”

“Research outcomes will benefit vulnerable adult children and hopefully prevent them from the same negative experiences I did,” she said.