November 17, 2021 | News

As a testament to the value of the program it is offering, Near North District School Board (NNDSB) has just created its third and fourth Memorandum of Understanding in two weeks. West Nipissing General Hospital (WNGH) in Sturgeon Falls and Algonquin Nursing Home in Mattawa plan to provide living classrooms in order to train Personal Support Workers (PSWs).

WNGH and Algonquin Nursing Home are the two most recent organizations to commit to working with NNDSB to provide a living classroom, in which students will learn theory in an on-site classroom, then apply those skills on the floor of the hospital. Students will do their clinical work on WNGH’s long-term care and complex continuing care units, and in the long-term care home in Mattawa.

Student costs of this program will be subsidized; tuition is covered by NNDSB.

Cynthia Dèsormiers, President and Chief Executive Officer of WNGH, says the hospital is eager to partner because, “there is a critical shortage of Health Human Resources (HHR) throughout Ontario and in our community as well. This is a program that allows us to think outside the box while fulfilling a need at WNGH and in our community. This program will provide a great opportunity for people in our community to kick start a new career in health care, and with the tuition being waived in the first year, it is like a gift for those who may have financial difficulties.”

NNDSB’s Director of Education Craig Myles says the board has worked hard to bring this hands-on learning opportunity to learners 18 years and older. “We’re excited to offer this training, which is accredited through the Personal Support Worker Professional Association. NNDSB will be training PSWs who will be ready to begin work upon completion of the course.”

The PSW program is a collaborative effort of the board, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and community organizations. The other partnerships will see living classrooms set up in Cassellholme in North Bay, and Belvedere Heights and Lakeland Long-Term Care in Parry Sound. (Hyperlinks are to media release about those partnerships.)

Dèsormiers says the program and partnership “is a win-win for both the hospital and the students. This is an opportunity for us to grow our own PSWs, which usually leads to recruitment and improved retention when they are from the community.”

Jay Aspin, Chair of the Board of Trustees of NNDSB, says the PSW initiative is a great way to re-engage adult learners while addressing a critical shortage of healthcare workers. “NNDSB is proud of its role in helping to educate and train skilled PSWs that are in high demand in all areas of the board. This innovative program serves so many purposes in our communities, including marvelous opportunities for our students.”

Dèsormiers says WNGH is “grateful for the opportunity to partner this year and in future years to fill a huge need in healthcare, while providing great employment opportunities and careers for people in West Nipissing and surrounding areas.”

Spaces in each program are limited. Anyone interested should plan to attend the information session on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. online. (Meeting is hyperlinked.)

Students who do not yet have their Grade 12 are eligible to apply. They can earn up to six credits towards their diploma while taking this training.

NNDSB is seeking partnerships with local long-term care homes in all regions of the board to re-engage learners who are 18+ interested in training to become a PSW. Any long-term care home interested in partnering should contact Liana Blaskievich, NNDSB’s Officer Corporate Affairs at 705-472-8170 ext. 5056 or