Aims and Objectives: To evaluate a rapid response student telehealth placement experience implementing interRAI assessments of community-dwelling frail older people during the COVID-19 pandemic. To identify lessons to inform future telehealth clinical placements. Background: New Zealand undertakes assessment of older people with disabilities using the interRAI contact assessment tool for less complex conditions and home care assessment tool for complex needs. New Zealand entered lockdown in March 2020 in response to COVID-19. New Zealand's most vulnerable community members required urgent needs assessment. Design: A clinical placement whereby 3rd year undergraduate nursing students trained by interRAI-NZ educators worked remotely from home delivering telehealth assessment for ‘at risk’ older people across the Waikato District, New Zealand. This represented the first telehealth experience within an undergraduate nursing program approved by the New Zealand Nursing Council. Methods: A case study evaluation utilising mixed method questionnaire and qualitative techniques within an interpretive paradigm. 19 third year students in the fifth semester of a Bachelor of Nursing program and 5 nursing staff members engaged in delivery of the initiative completed pre- and post-placement short answer questionnaires. Reflective diaries were maintained by students on placement. Post-placement interviews and focus group discussions provided in-depth data. COREQ guidelines informed analysis and reporting. Results: Student and tutor responses showed consistent themes: tackling COVID-19; implementation requirements; nursing competencies; provider relationships; and community insights. These provide insight and highlight lessons learnt from this initiative. Conclusions: Student confidence in therapeutic engagement and clinical assessment and interest in aged care was increased, confirming the viability and importance of this inaugural telehealth student placement initiative. Relevance to Clinical Practice: Graduate work readiness is enhanced through telehealth placement experience and interRAI assessor training. These are recommended as core components of future nursing education programs.
- clinical placement: community networks
- education, nursing
- emergency response
- frail elderly
- independent living