Breaking barriers in long-term care

It’s a bit of a frustrating situation. While the province is looking at funding more long-term care beds, there may simply not be enough staff to look after any new residents. Michelle Spencer from the District of Kenora has been looking for solutions for a number of years now. While there’s space at Pinecrest for more residents, a lack of staff means more seniors aren’t accepted into long-term care.

Reprinted by permission from Kenora Online

It’s a bit of a frustrating situation. While the province is looking at funding more long-term care beds, there may simply not be enough staff to look after any new residents.

Michelle Spencer from the District of Kenora has been looking for solutions for a number of years now. While there’s space at Pinecrest for more residents, a lack of staff means more seniors aren’t accepted into long-term care.

“You can give us all the money and the hours in the world, but if we don’t have those people, who are interested in doing that job, we’re no further ahead,” she said.

At Pinecrest in Kenora, they’ve developed what they call a living classroom. It allows staff to learn theory in class, then go down the hall and apply it. One of the students enrolled in the training program through Confederation College is Todd Norlen.

“With the Baby Boomers getting older, we’re going to need more PSWs. So, I think it’s a growing industry. Hopefully, the government and everyone involved realizes that, and we can have enough support workers to give the proper care,” he said.

Norlen is actually part of a bumper crop. Usually, two or four students a year would enroll in the personal support worker courses at Confederation College. However, Norlen’s one of seven students, in this year’s living classroom at Pinecrest in Kenora.

“It’s very rewarding,” he said. “Working with our older clients is fun to do. They have a lot of knowledge. They were once young like us, and they need care, as well.”

Michelle Spencer’s the human resources manager at Pinecrest. She says allowing new students to pay off their tuition by working shifts at the long-term care home is helping.

She would also like to see more people brought into the home at an earlier age, so they get used to the idea that it’s not a scary place.

“They build those relationships and see that, you know what, this is good work. This is giving back, and this is something that might interest me, as opposed to ‘Hey, become a PSW.” Well, what is that, and what does that mean?”

Spencer noted the starting wage of $19.09/hr. and benefits package are quite competitive. Still, there’s a shortage of staff in long-term care homes across the province.

Over the winter months, hospitals in Kenora, Dryden and Sioux Lookout have been looking for more space. The lack of long-term care beds in the district has created a backlog, which means it can be harder to admit new patients into local hospitals.

First Group of Students Graduate from New PSW Program

There’s a new program on campus and its first set of students just graduated. The first wave of personal support worker (PSW) students who were in the newly integrated program just graduated in January 2018. The eight-month program offers the original program’s in-class learning alongside additional hands-on experience at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre.

Reprinted from Algonquin Times

PHOTO: Jennifer Munoz is the co-ordinator for the PSW programs at Algonquin. She is very passionate about the new program that allows students to get hands-on training at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre. Photo credit: Natalie Oattes

There’s a new program on campus and its first set of students just graduated.

The first wave of personal support worker (PSW) students who were in the newly integrated program just graduated in January 2018. The eight-month program offers the original program’s in-class learning alongside additional hands-on experience at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre.

The students start the hands-on work at the Perley and Rideau within the first month.

PSW co-ordinator and Algonquin grad, Jennifer Munoz, was approached by her managers to help with a new project at the Perley and Rideau. The students get to practice resident care in a newly renovated classroom at the centre with four beds and four mannequins to practice their skills.

“The students are able to learn their role as a PSW. They learn how to provide safe and competent care to their resident,” Munoz said.

Each student is paired up with a staff PSW at the Perley and Rideau. The staff show the students the skills on how to care for residents.

The staff went through mentorship training with Munoz to help the students adapt to the work life of a PSW.

“They learn how to work as a contributing member of the health care team,” Munoz added.

Valerie Little, a graduate of the PSW program with the Perley and Rideau, knows the hands-on experience is just as important as learning from a textbook.

“You learn it from a book, then go to the classroom and execute it perfectly,” Little said.

Little, who was in the sales industry for 30 years, picked this program after gaining skill and experience from looking after her ailing mother for years. This program was all she needed to gain knowledge in the medical field.

Munoz explained there is a need for personal support workers in our community because of the large aging population. Several home care agencies and long-term care homes have contacted Munoz asking for more PSW graduates.

Munoz is very passionate about this new program.

“Personal support workers don’t only provide direct care, for example daily living, but they are also advocates for residents. They can pick up on emotional needs and physical needs and are a companion to the residents.”