Knowledge about ageing and attitudes towards caring for older people among undergraduate nursing students in the Western Cape
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Studies have indicated that the global population of older people will reach 1.53 billion by 2050. The ageing population is a large consumer of health-care services and this remains a global concern due to the impact on existing health care systems. To have an adequately prepared workforce, nurses must have enough knowledge and skills to care for older people and positive attitudes toward them. This is because nurses’ attitudes towards older people might influence the quality of care they provide. Studies have documented nurses’ reluctance to care to work with older people, but little is known about the attitudes and knowledge of nursing students towards caring for older people in South Africa. The aim of this study was to examine undergraduate nursing students’ knowledge about ageing and their attitudes towards caring for older people. A quantitative descriptive survey, utilizing a self-administered questionnaire was used. A pre-tested self-report questionnaire was used to collect the data from a stratified sample of 240 nursing students across 5 levels of Bachelor of Nursing programme, from the foundation year to the 4th year.. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 25. The response rate was 100%. The findings showed that the first- and second-year students had minimal clinical exposure to older people while the third and fourth year had extensive contact with patients in clinical and other health settings. The students had an average level of knowledge with a generally positive attitude towards older people, though significant differences were found between the year levels. Just over half of the respondents reported that they intend to work with older people after graduation. The study recommended the improved training of nursing students in caring for older people.