Successful Living Classroom funding applicants | March 2024

LTC Home PSW Education Provider
Algoma Manor Sault College
Belvedere Heights Near North District School Board
Eastholme (East District Parry Sound Home for the Aged) Canadore College
Extendicare Kirkland Lake Medix College
Extendicare Timmins Medix College
Fairmount Home (Corporation of Frontenac) St. Lawrence College
Fairview Mennonite Waterloo Catholic DSB (St. Louis)
H.J. McFarland (Corporation of County of Prince Edward) Loyalist College
Iroquois Lodge Six Nations Polytechnic
Kensington Gardens (Kensington Health Centre) Toronto DSB (City Adult Learning Centre)
Maple View Lodge (United Counties of Leeds and Grenville) St. Lawrence College
Mennonite Brethren Senior Citizens Home
Niagara Ina Grafton Gage Village triOS College
Orchard Villa HCTP College of Health, Business and Technology
Parkview Home Trillium Vocational Institute
Parkwood Mennonite Home Waterloo Catholic DSB (St. Louis)
Perley Health Algonquin College
Residence Prescott et Russell (Corporation of United Counties of Prescott and Russell) CEPEO (Le Carrefour)
Bruyere Continuing Care (Residence St. Louis) College La Cite
St. Gabriel’s Villa of Sudbury (SJHC Sudbury) Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario
St. Joseph’s at Fleming Fleming College
St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph Upper Grand District School Board
St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre Grand Erie DSB (GELA)
Southbridge Pinewood HCTP College of Health, Business and Technology
Spruce Lodge Avon Maitland District School Board
Sunnyside Home (Regional Municipality of Waterloo) Waterloo Catholic DSB
Temiskaming Lodge District School Board Ontario North East
The Glebe Centre Algonquin Careers Academy
Arnprior Regional Health (The Grove, Arnprior Nursing Home) Willis College
The John M. Parrott Centre Limestone District DSB
The Village at University Gates Conestoga College
The Village of Erin Meadows Sheridan College
The Village of Humber Heights Conestoga College
The Village of Riverside Glen Conestoga College
The Village of Wentworth Heights Mohawk College
The West Nipissing General Hospital Canadore College
Durham College
Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
Au Chateau College Boreal
Banwell Gardens Care Centre College Boreal
Foyer Richelieu Welland College Boreal
North Centennial Manor College Boreal

Bridging the gap in senior care: Nearly $11M Living Classroom investment targets urgent workforce needs

Waterloo, Ont. – To address the critical shortage of skilled personal support workers (PSWs) and the pressing demands of Canada’s rapidly aging population, the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA), in collaboration with the Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators (CESBA), is excited to announce the launch of an expanded Living Classroom Program with a nearly $11M investment over three years from the Ministry of Long-Term Care. 

“Our government is fixing long-term care by training, hiring and retaining thousands of health care workers to provide high-quality care for residents,” said Stan Cho, Minister of Long-Term Care. “We’re investing in programs that are building a pipeline of talent for the future and giving them more hands-on clinical training so our long-term care residents get the high-quality care they deserve.

By integrating academic excellence with real-world experience in a long-term care setting, the Living Classroom sets a new standard for personal support worker education, ensuring graduates are not just highly qualified, but also deeply connected to the mission and values of compassionate care.

“The Living Classroom is an innovative evidence-informed learning program that will provide students with an enriched educational opportunity where book-learning is coupled with learning alongside long term care staff and residents,” says Tina Mah, executive director at the RIA. “This funding to double the number of Living Classrooms will provide greater access to an Ontario-made education model to meet the unique needs of long-term care home residents.”  

The Living Classroom is an innovative education partnership model that combines theoretical learning with practical, hands-on experience, by placing the classrooms directly into long-term care (LTC) homes. The many benefits of the Living Classroom model include improved PSW recruitment and retention rates, a strengthened senior care workforce with both academic knowledge and practical expertise, and improved quality of care for older adults.

“CESBA and our school board partners are thrilled to work alongside RIA to develop the dedicated, compassionate and work-ready PSWs we need to care for seniors for many years to come,” states Paul Cox, executive director at CESBA. “This collaboration not only leverages our combined expertise but is also a demonstration of our shared commitment to fostering innovative learning environments.”

With this investment, the Living Classroom program will:

  • Provide funding opportunities to support 20 new Living Classrooms, as well as the 20 existing locations, to enhance learning experiences and retention of PSWs. This will support the training of up to 1,300 new personal support workers by 2026.
  • Enhance and sustain collaborations, both locally and provincially, between LTC homes and education providers (colleges and adult education school boards) to integrate education into long-term care to support workforce development, with a focus on rural and northern communities.
  • Provide educational resources, training, and coaching support to LTC homes and educational institutions to enhance and develop Living Classrooms.
  • Evaluate different models of Living Classrooms and their impact on recruitment and retention of PSWs in Ontario LTC homes.

The Living Classroom model was first implemented in Ontario through a partnership with Conestoga College, the RIA and Schlegel Villages. In September 2009, the first Living Classroom opened at the Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph, followed in 2015 by a second Living Classroom at the Village at University Gates in Waterloo. Through the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care, the RIA has provided resources to promote the spread of the Living Classroom model across the province. Since then, 20 new Living Classrooms have opened in LTC homes in collaboration with public colleges and adult and continuing education school boards that offer PSW certificate programs. Many of these LTC homes report that they have experienced a positive impact on their ability to hire new team members.

This initiative is a testament to the RIA and CESBA’s commitment to enhancing care for older adults and innovation in education.

For more information, visit livingclassroom.ca/fund.


About the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
The Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) is a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and care of older adults. The RIA tackles some of the biggest issues facing an aging population by driving research and innovation to improve education and practice. The RIA develops and shares solutions that make a difference to benefit older adults everywhere. Learn more at www.the-ria.ca.

About the Ontario CLRI
The Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (Ontario CLRI) strengthen the quality of life and care for residents across the province. The Ontario CLRI is hosted at Baycrest Academy for Research and Education, Bruyère Research Institute, and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, and is funded by the Ministry of Long-Term Care with a mandate to be a resource for the sector by providing education and sharing research and innovations to enhance the health and well-being of people who live and work in long-term care.

About CESBA
CESBA is a provincial, non-profit professional association that represents, advocates for and supports adult and continuing education program staff working in more than 60 school boards across Ontario. CESBA’s mission is to provide adult, alternative and continuing education program staff working in Ontario’s school boards with the knowledge, skills and abilities to assist learners in achieving their education and employment goals.

Media contact
Noel Gruber
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
noel.gruber@the-ria.ca

              

Living Classrooms: A Fusion of Theory and Practice

Students from Mohawk College will begin arriving at Tansley Woods this Fall, as they work to apply their theoretical learning in this authentic, real-world setting. The Living Classroom at Tansley Woods is Mohawk College’s second partnership with Schlegel Villages, a leader in retirement living and long-term care in Ontario. … Continue reading

Reprinted from Mohawk College, Future Ready Blog

“It’s not a schoolroom. It’s life,” Carol, a resident of the Village of Tansley Woods, reflects on Mohawk College’s new Living Classroom. Carol’s home will soon double as a classroom, as her retirement community welcomes a new satellite campus for the college. Students from Mohawk College will begin arriving at Tansley Woods this Fall, as they work to apply their theoretical learning in this authentic, real-world setting.

The Living Classroom at Tansley Woods is Mohawk College’s second partnership with Schlegel Villages, a leader in retirement living and long-term care in Ontario.

But what exactly is a living classroom, and how does it work?

Students at the Tansley Woods campus will receive both practical real-world experience and the flexibility that modern learners demand. Theory classes will be offered online, making it easier for our students to balance their studies with their other commitments.

The practice components of their studies, however, will take place in Tansley Woods, either in the College’s modern lab space or on the floor, interacting directly with residents as they go about their daily lives. This innovative approach to learning gives students the opportunity to learn and gain practical experience as they provide supervised care for the Village’s residents.

A Living Classroom is much more than a classroom in a long-term care home. LCs create the opportunity for students to learn and reinforce their learning through real experiences that they may face while on-the-job.

Not only are students learning from their professors while in the classroom, but they also benefit from the experience and knowledge of the long-term care team members who are guiding them outside of the classroom. Both team members and residents do what they can to teach the students, sharing their knowledge and wisdom, which makes the learning experience more meaningful.

“I think it’s crucial because as much as you learn the different information in school, I think the information you learn from residents themselves is invaluable,” said Curtis, a social service worker who works at Tansley Woods. “I think the care and services we’re providing is specifically for them. So, I think who better to help us learn that than the residents themselves.”

Students learn directly from the resident they’re treating, seeing in real time how certain conditions affect people and their ability to perform simple tasks such as dressing themselves. At the same time, these future caregivers learn about the realities of health conditions directly from the residents and team members they train alongside. The value of hands-on, practical experience in the caring professions can never be overstated.

“Knowing that the people who are working with the residents were trained directly with residents rather than, you know, just the dummies or online or anything like that,” said Carol, a resident at Tansley Woods for the last 11 months. “I think that it’s invaluable because they’re seeing life. They’re seeing people with certain handicaps, and they can work with them. It’s not a schoolroom. It’s life.”

As they work with the residents, students often get to know them and form relationships. Not only does this make the learning experience more meaningful, but it also allows for an ease of transfer if the student decides to stay on as a worker once graduation. The students aren’t strangers to the residents.

Learning in a living classroom shows students that there is more to health care than tending to people in hospitals. There is another path in long term care where their work is needed and appreciated. Not only does learning in a living classroom allow for more intimate care, but it also helps to develop a feeling of community where residents, students and staff are working together for the betterment of everyone.

One of the greatest benefits is that students can see the impact that they have on patients firsthand. There’s a difference between learning about helping someone getting dressed in class, and helping a vulnerable person who needs assistance to do something like putting on clothes.

“I can see it becoming more of the norm for a lot of different areas of study,” said Curtis. “I wish there was some sort of setting like this for myself because, I think as much as you learn in the classroom and you learn all the theory and all of that, once you’re actually in the setting and learning from the residents themselves, it’s completely different. I think being able to incorporate that right into the curriculum, into what students are learning, will help to build on some of that theory and really put it into practice while they’re learning.”

Learning to Make an Impact: The Living Classroom at Providence Manor Provides Hands-On Experiences

The next generation of health care professionals are gaining hands on experience through a unique partnership with St. Lawrence College. The “Living Classroom,” located at Providence Manor long-term care home, is an innovative educational experience that sees personal support worker (PSW) students learning in a functioning, long-term care home. The collaboration with Providence Manor PSWs is leaving lasting impressions…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Providence Care News

The next generation of health care professionals are gaining hands on experience through a unique partnership with St. Lawrence College. The “Living Classroom,” located at Providence Manor long-term care home, is an innovative educational experience that sees personal support worker (PSW) students learning in a functioning, long-term care home. The collaboration with Providence Manor PSWs is leaving lasting impressions.

“PSWs play an extremely important role in the health care system, especially in long-term care. Our partnership with the college provides an excellent opportunity for our staff to share their knowledge with the future generation. Housing this program at Providence Manor offers an increased level of engagement between students, staff, residents and their loved ones,” says Stacy Jowett, Providence Manor’s Coordinator of Student Placement and Recreation.

PSW students have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the program in a classroom located in the lower level of the home – from theory, to labs and clinical placements. Launched in December 2019 and led by post-secondary educators from St. Lawrence College, hundreds of PSW students have gained the highest level of hands on learning possible at Providence Manor. The opportunity to learn how to deliver care in a compassionate and caring manner helps ensure students are well prepared to enter the workforce.

“Our relationship with Providence Care and this program is very important to the College. This living classroom model allows students to develop their skills but also their relationships with residents and staff, while completing their training. They become part of the team, even before they graduate. This “on the spot”, real time opportunity to practice skills and interact with staff results in graduates who already feel part the organization and have shown they are more likely to stay and further their career with Providence Care. It is a win- win situation for all involved,” says Dr. Barb Le Blanc, Dean, Health and Wellness at St. Lawrence College.

A distinct feature of the living classroom is the real-time opportunities students have to practice skills, both clinical and relationship based, having resident home areas easily accessible from the classroom. What students learn in lab can be practiced on the resident home areas the same day, rather than waiting for clinical placement towards the end of the semester. This feature of the program builds confidence early on and reinforces learning that might otherwise be lost due to delays in practical learning at placement.

Kelly Thompson is a PSW who has worked at Providence Manor for 28 years. She is a preceptor for PSW students and her role is critical in their success. Each student is matched with a staff member like Kelly who provides mentorship and supervision to students, while guiding them with the skills and knowledge to meet their learning objectives.

“I remember my first day at Providence Manor and how nervous I felt. I want students to feel comfortable and happy with their career choice of becoming a PSW. Students are bringing new perspectives to the home and they are so willing to help and learn. Plus, the residents receive extra one-on-one time, which is also teaching them the other side of being a PSW – how to socially engage with the people you are caring for,” explains Kelly.

The living classroom initiative is a win for recruitment and retention at the home as well. Many living classroom PSW students are hired at the home immediately following graduation.

“By providing the appropriate time and attention to supporting these students like Kelly does, ultimately we are fostering a great learning environment and making students feel comfortable and at ease. They know the home well and they have already built relationships with staff and residents. It’s a no-brainer for them to start their career here with us and what these students are bringing to the table is really fun and exciting,” says Stacy.

And it’s not just PSWs that are completing placements at Providence Manor. Student placement opportunities at the home have expanded significantly over the past two years. Placement opportunities for students now include spaces for those learning to become Registered Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, Behavioural Technologists, Music Therapists, Registered Dietitians and Recreation Therapists.

In 2022, 100 students completed a placement at the home; 30 of which were living classroom, PSW students. Providence Manor is proud to offer a rich and interactive learning environment.

Preceptors like Kelly are paving the way for the next generation of health care workers and teaching them a few time saving tricks to help them on their journey. Kelly’s advice to students is to stick with it – being a PSW can be one of the most rewarding careers!

Inspiring Future Caregivers through the Living Classroom

Among many teachings Ron Schlegel offered his three sons as they grew to eventually lead the organization he founded, he taught them to trust in the power of partnerships, but also to be sure to choose any partner in life wisely. Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel shared this insight as he spoke at the opening of the new Living Classroom satellite training campus at The Village of Tansley Woods in Burlington, developed alongside Hamilton’s Mohawk College.
Continue reading

By Kristian Partington
Reprinted from Schlegel Villages News

Among many teachings Ron Schlegel offered his three sons as they grew to eventually lead the organization he founded, he taught them to trust in the power of partnerships, but also to be sure to choose any partner in life wisely.

Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel shared this insight as he spoke at the opening of the new Living Classroom satellite training campus at The Village of Tansley Woods in Burlington, developed alongside Hamilton’s Mohawk College.

“My dad has always reminded me and encouraged me to choose your partners in life carefully and make sure that those partners are aligned from a values standpoint,” Jamie said. “I can say without hesitation that we found such a wonderful partner in Mohawk College, that is aligned with our values and aligned with our objective and vision for doing the training of healthcare workers in a different and innovative way.”

Group photo of people celebrating the opening of the new Living Classroom
Representatives from Schlegel Villages, Mohawk College and The Village of Tansley Woods marked the opening of a new Living Classroom training campus within the Village.
PSW student Kim Hulme stands at a podium with Schlegel Villages VP of People Christy Parsonsium.
PSW student Kim Hulme (right) stands with Schlegel Villages VP of People Christy Parsons and shares her views on the opportunities the Living Classroom offers future students like her.

The development of engaged teams that are driven by the concept of relationship-centred care is one the most important priorities at Schlegel Villages, which is why it invests in the training of new caregivers through its in-house Living Classrooms. This new campus, located within Tansley Woods, is the fourth of these innovative classrooms Schlegel Villages has developed.

This model, Jamie explains, “allows students to learn right in the environment they’re ultimately going to work in and the neat part about this arrangement is it allows the residents and our existing team members to be part of the learning journey, and it creates such a rich and deep and relevant learning experience.”

The feedback from students who have graduated from previous Living Classroom cohorts over the years at Wentworth Heights, University Gates or Riverside Glen consistently point out the superiority of the immersive experience that this model offers future caregivers.

Kim Hulme is a Personal Care Aide working in the retirement neighbourhoods at Tansley Woods, and she is also training through Mohawk College to be a Personal Support Worker. She says her clinical placement next door in the Long-term Care neighbourhoods has been invaluable, and she believes the Living Classroom model will only enhance the experience for future students.

“The people that I’m working with are wonderful,” Kim says. “Everyone works as a team; I learn something new every day and I’m very well honoured to be part of this team.

“What a great opportunity and it’s just wonderful that the Living Classroom is here in Burlington.”

As Mohawk College’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Armstrong reflected on the partnership, which began with the college’s first Living Classroom at The Village of Wentworth Heights in 2019, he also spoke of shared values. “In any relationship, there’s just something in your gut that tells you it feels right,” he said. “Everything I’ve seen and every opportunity I’ve had to engage with (Schlegel leaders), it is really clear where your values and principles and priorities lie and it’s in the same place where they lie for me personally and where they lie for us as Mohawk College.”

The first students will begin their training in the fall of 2023 and will have every opportunity to work within Schlegel Villages once their education is complete.

Schlegel Villages and Mohawk College expand partnership, establish a dedicated training location in Burlington

Mohawk College and Schlegel Villages today launched a new satellite college campus location, embedded in The Village of Tansley Woods retirement and long-term care home in Burlington, ON…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Mohawk News Desk

Living Classroom at The Village of Tansley Woods to welcome students in September

Mohawk College and Schlegel Villages today launched a new satellite college campus location, embedded in The Village of Tansley Woods retirement and long-term care home in Burlington, ON.

The new Living Classroom replicates the successful teaching model that Mohawk College has operated with Schlegel Villages at The Village of Wentworth Heights in Hamilton. By constructing a training centre in the residence, Schlegel Villages and Mohawk College are providing students the opportunity to learn and gain practical experience as they provide supervised care for the Village’s residents.

The Living Classroom at The Village of Tansley Woods will become the home training location for students who choose to study there for the Personal Support Worker (PSW) and the Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physiotherapy Assistant (OTA/PTA) programs. Students will spend their entire program at the residence as they prepare for their careers. The Living Classroom includes classroom space, a skills lab, faculty offices, a student lounge and a mock apartment identical to those at the long-term care home.

The Living Classroom at Tansley Woods will be open in September 2023 to accommodate 24 OTA/PTA students and 24 PSW students.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Mohawk College with the new Living Classroom at Tansley Woods, because we know this type of experiential learning creates exceptional caregivers. When we combine the hands-on experience students gain alongside our team members and the lived experience they learn from our residents, graduates begin their careers with a true understanding of what relationship-centred support looks like.”
— James Schlegel, President and CEO, Schlegel Villages

“This new training centre offers a great example of how strong, innovative collaboration can benefit the whole community. Mohawk College is proud to extend its partnership with Schlegel Villages to provide students with an exceptional training facility and unique experiential learning opportunities in their fields of study. Based on the success we have experienced with the Wentworth Heights Living Classroom, we are confident this training approach will provide the students in Burlington with a proven pathway to fulfilling careers in community care.”
— Paul Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer, Mohawk College

FAST FACTS

  • The Personal Support Worker program is a one-year certificate program at Mohawk College
  • The Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physiotherapy Assistant program is a two-year Ontario College Diploma program at Mohawk College
  • In addition to new the Mohawk College community campus at The Village of Tansley Woods, the Living Classroom at The Village of Wentworth Heights (Hamilton) was opened in January 2019, supporting the PSW program. Both programs are offered at Mohawk’s Institute for Applied Health Sciences at McMaster University
  • Schlegel Villages currently serves approximately 5,000 residents in its Long-Term Care and Retirement homes.
  • The Living Classroom at Tansley Woods is the fourth project of its kind for Schlegel Villages

Free tuition for PSW program offered at Marianhill in Pembroke

A long-term care home in Pembroke is offering a tuition free PSW program. Linda Tracey, the CEO at Marianhill Long-Term Care and Community Services, says they are offering a five month accelerated program to train personal support workers (PSW)…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Pembroke Today

A long-term care home in Pembroke is offering a tuition free PSW program. Linda Tracey, the CEO at Marianhill Long-Term Care and Community Services, says they are offering a five month accelerated program to train personal support workers (PSW).

Tracey says PSW professionals are in high demand and adds they are excited to be partnering with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario to offer the tuition free program.

Tracey says the accelerated PSW program will typically run Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 3:00pm with some variation during clinical placements. Applications must be submitted by January 13th, 2023 and Tracey says they have 25 to 30 spots available.

PSW Program Coordinators are available to support you throughout the registration process by answering any questions you may have about the program, application process and funding opportunities.

In addition to free tuition, graduates of the PSW program who commit to working at Marianhill are eligible to receive $2,000 after two months and $5,000 after six months of employment. Marianhill is also providing earn-as-you-learn employment opportunities and those interested are asked to submit a resume with a list of positions available online here.

Tracey says Marianhill is undergoing a multi-million dollar redevelopment project that will see the long-term care home grow from 131 to 160 beds.

Haldimand County-Niagara College partnership brings post-secondary Personal Support Worker college program to Dunnville

Haldimand County and Niagara College Canada have once again partnered to offer the Personal Support Worker (PSW) college certificate program at Grandview Lodge in Dunnville starting in January 2023…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Haldimand County News

Haldimand County and Niagara College Canada have once again partnered to offer the Personal Support Worker (PSW) college certificate program at Grandview Lodge in Dunnville starting in January 2023.

A drop-in information session will be held on November 16, 2022 from 5 to 8 p.m in the Grandview Lodge Auditorium (657 Lock St. W) for those interested in learning more about the program and whether it may be a good fit.

Individuals who enroll will participate in 8 months of hands-on PSW training at Grandview Lodge, gain their Ontario College certificate and enter the job market with an established portfolio of PSW work experience.

Financial assistance is available for qualifying individuals, and anyone experiencing economic barriers is encouraged to contact Grandview Lodge staff at 905-774-7547 to learn more about tuition supports offered.

Graduates of the program will not only earn their college certificate, but have the unique opportunity to:

  • Foster relationships with PSW colleagues and establish professional networks for future employment references
  • Develop marketable skills necessary for success in the workplace
  • Access job opportunities in Dunnville upon successful completion of the program

“We’re thrilled to partner with Niagara College Canada to offer this innovative program in our community,” said Jennifer Jacob, Grandview Lodge administrator. “This exciting partnership allows students to be immersed in a long-term care environment while completing their practicum, which gives graduates the advantage of real-life experience when entering the job market,” Jacob noted.

“We are excited to work with Grandview Lodge again to help meet the education needs of prospective students and the healthcare needs of the community,” said Angela Butt, Niagara College Interim Dean, Health Sciences. “Our partnership with Grandview Lodge really facilitates Niagara College in living its vision of enriching lives and fulfilling dreams through applied learning and real-life experience!”

Individuals who are interested in the PSW profession or have an interest in pursuing a career within the healthcare sector are strongly encouraged to attend the November 16 information session to learn more.

More information about the Personal Support Worker certificate program is available on the Niagara College website. Anyone interested may also contact Grandview Lodge (905-775-7547 or grandview@haldimandcounty.on.ca) or Niagara College (myfutureNC@niagaracollege.ca for further details.

First School Board PSW graduates ready for work

It’s graduation month for the first personal support worker (PSW) program launched by the Near North District School Board (NNDSB). The program began in February and had 24 students enrolled. This month, all 24 graduated, and all of them have found jobs in the area…. Continue reading

By David Briggs, reprinted from Bay Today

The class of 2022 all found jobs and are eager for their new careers

It’s graduation month for the first personal support worker (PSW) program launched by the Near North District School Board (NNDSB). The program began in February and had 24 students enrolled. This month, all 24 graduated, and all of them have found jobs in the area.

Lisa Spencer, the NNDSB’s Secondary Program Coordinator, noted “the goal of the program was to support community needs, and to contribute to the development of PSWs ready to start a career in healthcare.”

Now those community needs are beginning to be filled “with confident and proud PSWs,” who are ready to begin their careers on the frontline of health care. Yes, there is still a large need to fill, but every new set of hands will be an asset to the community. Plus, the program continues, as plans are underway to run it in Parry Sound and Mattawa in September, and “it is the board’s intention” to also run the PSW program in North Bay and West Nipissing.

The program offers training in what the NNDSB refers to as “living classroom settings.” What this means is that on top of learning in the classroom, the students receive on-site training, working at hospitals and long-term care homes. They receive hand on experience with patients and learn from the veteran staff as well.

The intense training “aligns with every other program in the province,” Spencer explained, “and students have the experience and credentials of every other PSW in Ontario” upon graduating. And the living classroom “offers what many believe is an advantage in training,” Spencer said, offering the “ability to learn on the floor,” while gaining from the experience of working PSWs and nurses.

Nicole Robinson is an instructor in Parry Sound, and she’s a big fan of the program overall. “Hands down, this is the best way to learn,” she said. Robinson began her career as a PSW and is now a registered nurse at Belvedere Heights, so she understands what the students can expect.

“The staff embrace my students and go the extra mile for them,” she noted. “The have been so welcoming because they could be their next co-workers.”

For more information on the upcoming PSW programs, visit the PSW page of the NNDSB’s website.

Students, Community Partner Laud Board’s PSW Program

The first class of personal support worker (PSW) students is about halfway through Near North District School Board’s (NNDSB) unique program, which re-engages learners while assisting to close the gap in employment needs in the healthcare sector. The program sees students learn in living classrooms – they learn theory and often within hours are on the floor putting into practice what they’ve just learned…. Continue reading

By Kelly Hart. Reprinted from Muskoka411.com.

PHOTO: Arianna Poullas and Jillian Hewitt are two of the PSW students in the inaugural program running at Cassellholme.

The first class of personal support worker (PSW) students is about halfway through Near North District School Board’s (NNDSB) unique program, which re-engages learners while assisting to close the gap in employment needs in the healthcare sector. The program sees students learn in living classrooms – they learn theory and often within hours are on the floor putting into practice what they’ve just learned.

The program is running in Parry Sound and North Bay, with community partners Belvedere House and Cassellholme, which are providing the classroom space and mentorship of the PSW students.

The in-class sessions will wrap up June 30, then students will have to fulfil placement hours in both long-term care and community care settings.

In North Bay, instructor Nancy Corbett is no stranger to Cassellholme. She’s been a registered practical nurse (RPN) there for 25 years and has worked as a preceptor for practical nursing students.

She loves teaching in the living classroom, where students start to learn slowly with portering and feeding residents before they learn about hygiene and other aspects of care. Corbett says when students get to shadow PSWs, they learn by seeing others do the work, then get to try it themselves. She says living classrooms “are the way to teach. It’s the way to go,” because of the shortened timeframe between learning and doing.

The hands-on learning is what appealed to Arianna Poullas. The North Bay resident studied for a year at college but didn’t enjoy learning in a classroom from a textbook. The PSW program appealed to her because after theoretical learning, there is application of the knowledge.

“I like being able to do things with my hands,” says Poullas. “It makes things make sense to me.”

She says the small class size helps the group all feel like family, and says it’s been like that since the first day. The students are supportive of each other, and Poullas says this is the best program she’s ever been involved in. She says learning by reading “just doesn’t stick in my head”; she likes being out on the floor and is happy to not be learning solely by books.

PSW student Jillian Hewitt is also a part-time employee and single mom who enjoys the flexibility of the program.

She enjoys observing and learning from the PSWs, as she finds every person does things a little differently. Watching the others lets her find the best way for her to do the job.

Hewitt says the program is well-organized and the way it’s been taught has made the content “easy to absorb.” She feels supported by Corbett, her peers and staff at Cassellholme, and is confident in the skills she will have when she graduates after her placement hours.

Poullas loves working with Cassellholme’s residents and is hoping for a job in long-term care. She’s already been hired in the home’s Helping Hands program; Cassellholme Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jamie Lowery says it’s like a pre-PSW job position in which staff assist the PSWs.

Poullas is one of seven of the PSW students who have been hired as Helping Hands at Cassellholme. Lowery says the work that was done in vetting candidates has created a class of students who have “an inherent desire to be a PSW.” He says staff is “blown away” by the quality of students and of the course being taught.

NNDSB’s intake process is credited with successful inaugural classes.

Lisa Spencer, who facilitates specialist high skills majors and experiential learning for NNDSB says, “Our intake process consisted of an initial literacy assessment and interview where our team had the opportunity to meet and support each student individually. As a continuing education program, not all our students came to us with their high school diploma so really understanding the pathway for our students helped us to support the initiation process. We can see that our intake process is supportive, and we are very proud of all our students. They can earn their high school diploma while participating in a state of the art post-secondary program.”

Corbett says the interview process gleaned candidates who were best suited to the work of a PSW and who displayed the commitment needed to complete the course. Lowery says he was impressed with NNDSB and its flexibility in designing the program. Teaching learners to deal with difficult people is a skill that the PSW students can use in many aspects of life, not just at work.

He adds that for some, working as a PSW may be only the first step in a healthcare career. Cassellholme has a training budget for its staff which can help people meet their career goals.

There are plans to run the PSW program in September in West Nipissing and Mattawa, too. People interested in taking the PSW course can visit this page for more information. It contains links to an information session, information about the literacy assessment, and a fillable form to register interest in the program. Spaces are limited so potential students are urged to register as soon as possible.