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Implement the Living Classroom: (7) Identify and Connect PSE Faculty and LTC Teams, (8) Integrate Curriculum and LTC Activities, (9) Define Communication and Coordination Mechanisms

Integrate Curriculum and Long-Term-Care Activities

A curriculum is the heart of any given educational program. A curriculum is a series of planned instruction that is coordinated and articulated in a manner that is designed to result in students’ achievement of specific knowledge and skills and the application of knowledge (Kopera-Frye, Mahaffy, et al., 2008).

To start with, all curriculum must address the practice or vocational standards or competencies as defined by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). Each program taught at a PSE comes with a well-defined set of competencies to be met at the end of the program. Competencies are described as a list of capabilities that the graduates have to achieve before they can graduate from the program. Each PSE is responsible for developing a unique and efficient program to meet these competencies. To that extent, PSEs develop a curriculum for each of the programs they are teaching.

Conestoga College supports all of their curriculum by a framework of I4 approach. The four “I” pillars are Intentional, Integrated, Impactful and Interprofessional. Each one of these pillars is fundamental to the development of the overall curriculum and the subsequent design of courses, learning strategies, and evaluation practices. Content and courses provide intentional learning, which is integrated over the duration of the entire program. Content is presented from an interprofessional perspective and is designed such that it is impactful; it is making a difference in the learning of the student. Naturally, curriculum undergoes ongoing refinements and updates, based on changing practices and emerging knowledge in the field and requirements of program competencies. In addition, each program undergoes a major program review every five years, with valued input from key stakeholders and a program advisory committee to ensure the program meets the needs of the workforce.

The curriculum taught in our LC is the PSW program as designed by Conestoga College. This program consists of a two-semester integrated learning curriculum, including a community and LTC experiential learning experience. Within the PSW program, students receive theoretical and clinical content, enhanced by intentional case studies and integrated learning.

Content covered in the PSW program includes:

  • strong knowledge of all aspects of care and service provision for older adults and their families;
  • the understanding of aging as a continuum with varying abilities and needs; and
  • the ability to recognize and respond to an older person within a social context of life.

Experiential Learning

For the PSW program that is delivered in the LC, additional integrated experiences are added to promote the experiential learning within a LTC setting. A few of these experiential learning assignments are found below:

“My Story”: Each student is teamed up with a volunteer resident. The student meets the resident a couple of times and then traces the resident’s hands on a piece of paper and discusses meaningful events in the resident’s life. The student then visualizes those events on the drawing through words, pictures, colours, etc. The end result is presented, together with the resident, to the group of students and LTC home teams. This activity aims to promote the student’s interpersonal communication with older adults, emphasizes the life experiences that older people bring to the LTC home and the importance of resident-centered care, and introduces the beginning principles of reflection on one’s own values and experiences. For the residents, this activity provides a welcome opportunity to reminisce and share their life story. Team members enjoy this activity because they might learn something different about the resident or they might be reminded of an important event in the resident’s life that they had forgotten. This activity is often conducted at the beginning of the program, to familiarize students with the residents, the LTC team and the home.

“The Culture Fair”: Students are asked to organize a culture fair, representing the country of origin of the residents, the LTC team, and their fellow students. Displays are designed with the help of the residents and the fair is held on Mainstreet in the Village. On the day of the culture fair, students and residents represent their country, music, food, and any other important fact. Other residents, families, and team members visit the culture fair and share their experiences. The overall aim of this activity is to help the students understand the importance of ‘knowing the person’ to get to the concepts of resident-centered care.

“Walk a Day in My Shoes”: For this activity, the students are asked to observe different team members in the LTC home for several hours. PSW students observe nurses, PSWs, housekeepers, recreational therapists, dietary aides and so on. Team members are asked to explain their roles and contributions. The overall purpose of this activity is to help students to understand the interprofessional roles, teamwork and dynamics, and effective communication skills, including transfer of accountability and reporting.

Photo of student and instructor in class“In a LC, there are lots of new learnings from the Village of Riverside Glen teams and resident and family interactions. All of this can be incorporated into the curriculum and program delivery approaches.”

— PSE faculty

“Informal and formal engagement with residents and staff create this unique learning experience. I look forward to the Annual Program Reflection process with my colleagues at the main Doon Campus to share current care practices at University Gates and new resources for learning in curriculum for all PSW and PN students.”

— Sharon Clarke, Living Classroom Coordinator, Conestoga College, the Village at University Gates