Ontario’s immersive training programs for PSWs a good model for B.C. #BecauseBCCares

CBC News recently published a story about a personal support worker program at Algonquin College in Ottawa that embeds students in a long-term care facility to give them real-world experience before they graduate.

The eight-month program—the first of its kind at the college—allows students to try out their newly acquired skills sooner than they’d otherwise get to.

International student Pawan Aggawala stands next to one of the mannequins he and his classmates trained with before moving on to real patients. (Laurie Fagan/CBC )

After learning how to work safely in a classroom with mannequins and hospital beds, students moved on to master practical skills by moving into a care home. Students reported that working directly with residents helped improve their communication skills, and taught them the importance of retaining a resident’s dignity while caring for them.

Job prospects for the graduates of the PSW program are excellent, and employers say that having such a program in the community offers a great advantage in terms of recruitment and retention.

Like Ontario, there’s a shortage of care aids in B.C. Addressing these staffing shortages involves not only training enough graduates to join the workforce, but also ensuring they have the skills and education to be successful at work.

The success of the PSW program in Ontario poses an important question—can emulating the hands-on training approach in B.C.’s colleges improve skills and career outcomes for recent graduates, and help employers secure competent workers to fill vacant positions?

Ashley Yutronkie, 32, just graduated from Algonquin College’s first integrated personal support worker program, taught at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre in Ottawa. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

“A humanistic and experiential approach to training can give new graduates an edge,” says BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine.

“It ensures their competence and confidence with their knowledge base and skills, and teaches them how to care for seniors with dignity and respect.”

Addressing challenges in training, recruitment and retention of workers in continuing care is an important aspect of BCCPA’s recruitment campaign, #BecauseBCCares.

For more information about training programs, facts about seniors’ care, testimonials and our regularly updated job board, visit bccare.ca/bccares.