Immersive Courses Bring Professionals and Students Together in Long-Term Care

Over the course of the past year, frontline health care workers have been a vital support to the long-term care sector. Whether personal support workers, nurses, allied health professionals, or support staff, these roles serve our residents and their loved ones each day.

The devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the challenges faced by the sector and the need for greater capacity in these roles. By the end of 2020, the Ministry of Long-Term Care launched a call to prioritize the education and recruitment of health care workers to strengthen long-term care and invest in a better future for the sector’s workers and residents.

Bruyere, La Cite and CLRI logosIn response, La Cité, in partnership with Bruyère’s Saint-Louis Residence, launched a Living Classroom designed to accelerate the training for new personal support workers in our community. The partnership integrates practical education sessions directly into the long-term care home to support workforce development in the sector through a culture of shared learning and real-life experience. The Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (CLRI), which has been an integral support in the program’s launch, brings knowledge and expertise to support improvements to quality of life and care in the sector through applied research, education, and training.

“Saint-Louis Residence is thrilled to be part of this collaboration with La Cité to launch a francophone living classroom within our home,” says Melissa Donskov, VP of Residential and Community Care Programs at Bruyère. “Learning from staff within a long-term care setting is a fantastic way to prepare future personal support workers for a career in the sector. It is also engaging for our current long-term care heroes, offering them opportunities to develop in their careers and to share all of their knowledge and expertise.”

With dozens of students enrolled in the first spring training cohort, Bruyère expects to see more than 20 additional students benefit from an education directly embedded in the workplace before the end of summer. Covering many of the basic techniques for residential care, including supporting mobility and transfers, students are gaining skills firsthand and stepping into careers with confidence. In this experiential learning environment, students are learning side-by-side with our dedicated Saint-Louis Residence’s frontline staff who have stepped up as teachers and supported the program.

“This is a good opportunity for personal care work students to gain valuable knowledge at Saint-Louis Residence,” said Jesule Balmir, a student in the first classroom cohort. “This program that leads to a certificate will open the door to other related training that may be useful in the future. Our teachers are highly qualified. They give us training based on years of experience so that we are well prepared for the personal support worker profession.”

Despite still navigating the challenges of COVID-19, the outpouring of engagement and interest to train the next generation of health care workers has been overwhelming among staff members. The response from staff at Saint-Louis Residence to foster a space for compassionate and integrated learning once again shows the incredible generosity and strength of our teams that continues to ripple through the community.

Students and instructor in the Living Classroom
“It is a privilege to be able to share the knowledge I have gained in my 40-year career as a personal care attendant. The live class not only teaches the theory, but also allows for direct practice with the students and validates if the different approaches and methods have been understood. For example, when working with a resident who has dementia, there are tips and tricks that make the experience better for the resident. Being able to directly relay these different nuances to them is great!

I love my experience as a living lab teacher at Saint-Louis Residence. We’re training the next generation of attendants, the heartfelt people who make all the difference, especially with our residents who are so vulnerable!”

—Monique Van Den Akerboom, personal support worker

“It is very motivating to take up this challenge as a living classroom teacher,” says Mireille Nduami, RPN at Saint-Louis Residence and former student at La Cité. “It is a great opportunity to bring my contribution during such a difficult time when the demand for health care workers is really a priority. By training the next generation, I too am growing and strengthening my knowledge. I am so grateful to be part of this innovative program!”

“It is truly a lesson that inspires the whole life. We had very good teachers,” said Hortense Mugandakazi Cikwanine, another student in the program.

La Cite students practicing at the bedside
“I find this experience very dynamic as we interchange our ideas and experience the theoretical lessons with practice which allows for a more direct and easy assimilation.

It will help us better understand the functioning of patients, their physical and psychological environment, to define our relationship with them and our responsibilities towards them.

I learned how to use the different tools necessary for the comfort and transfer of patients; I also understood the best attitude to have depending on the condition of the client to facilitate and embellish his daily life.”

— Nicole Bernisse Nkakanou Tchokotcheu, student

The Living Classroom partnership model was first implemented in Ontario through a collaboration with Conestoga College, the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and Schlegel Villages. Conestoga and the RIA, with support from the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care, are working to spread the model and support workforce development for the senior living sector.

John Noble Home partners with Grand Erie Learning Alternatives to open new Living Classroom

John Noble Home in Brantford, Ontario, has partnered with Grand Erie Learning Alternatives to deliver a new Living Classroom within the home to nurture the growth and professional development of Personal Support Workers. … Continue reading

John Noble Home in Brantford, Ontario, has partnered with Grand Erie Learning Alternatives to deliver a new Living Classroom within the home to nurture the growth and professional development of Personal Support Workers.

Registration for the January 2021 class is now open. For more information, visit https://www.granderie.ca/schools/gela/student-services/interested-becoming-personal-support-workerpsw.

Fairview Seniors Community and St. Louis launch a new Living Classroom

Fairview Seniors Community has partnered with St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres to offer a progressive Living Classroom experience for 22 PSW students, who will receive their training in the newly constructed 1,000 square foot classroom at Fairview Mennonite Home in Cambridge, Ontario…. Continue reading

Fairview Seniors Community has partnered with St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres to offer a progressive Living Classroom experience for 22 PSW students, who will receive their training in the newly constructed 1,000 square foot classroom at Fairview Mennonite Home in Cambridge, Ontario. The inaugural part-time St. Louis PSW class began on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

Read more about the new Living Classroom:

Aged care: Some workers feel they’ve drawn the short straw

Aged care workers are among the lowest paid and the least qualified in the sector with many feeling like they had “drawn the short straw” if they ended up in their jobs. Yet a highly successful Australian program that provided on the job training, research and education in 16 aged care facilities was dropped in 2015 because the federal government wouldn’t fund it…. Continue reading

By Julie Power, Brisbane Times.

Aged care workers are among the lowest paid and the least qualified in the sector with many feeling like they had “drawn the short straw” if they ended up in their jobs.

New models of “teaching nursing homes”, though, had improved retention with many seeing a job in aged care as a career, the Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety heard on Tuesday.

Yet a highly successful Australian program that provided on the job training, research and education in 16 aged care facilities was dropped in 2015 because the federal government wouldn’t fund it.

A report found the Teaching and Research Aged Care Services (TRACS) program had proved the value of providing “ongoing education to the existing aged care workforce to further build their skills and understanding of care for older people”.

Read the full story at Brisbane Times

Conestoga workshop shares best practices for implementation of Living Classrooms

College administrators and faculty from across the province recently attended a full-day best practices workshop delivered by Conestoga’s Schlegel Centre for Advancing Seniors Care to discuss the key features of implementing a successful living classroom — an innovative interprofessional approach to preparing students for successful careers working with seniors in long-term care and retirement living…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Conestoga College News

College administrators and faculty from across the province recently attended a full-day best practices workshop delivered by Conestoga’s Schlegel Centre for Advancing Seniors Care to discuss the key features of implementing a successful living classroom — an innovative interprofessional approach to preparing students for successful careers working with seniors in long-term care and retirement living.

Conestoga’s first Living Classroom opened in 2009 in partnership with Schlegel Villages at the Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph, and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA). In 2015, a second Living Classroom opened at the Village of University Gates in Waterloo.

The experiences of Conestoga, Schlegel Villages and RIA in developing these Living Classrooms has been compiled in an implementation guidebook for other institutions interested in launching similar models.

“Seniors deserve the health care they need and it’s our responsibility to develop a workforce that can serve them,” said Dr. Veronique Boscart, director of Conestoga’s Schlegel Centre for Advancing Seniors Care, as she welcomed participants at the Doon campus. “Today we want to focus on the Living Classroom and share our experiences, including what works well and what doesn’t.”

The motivation behind the first Living Classroom was to increase the number of personal support worker (PSW) and practical nursing graduates to meet workforce demands in Guelph. PSWs comprise more than 70 per cent of the staff in long-term care, but there aren’t enough of them to support the care needs of the growing older adult population. The situation is only expected to worsen over coming years as the population of seniors continues to grow.

Boscart stressed that the solution goes beyond just placing a classroom within a long-term care setting.

The Living Classroom is an interprofessional approach where a post-secondary program is delivered within the context of a long-term care home, with team members consisting of faculty, students, long-term care teams, residents and families who engage with each other within a culture of learning. Students bridge the gap between theoretical learning and clinical practice in the actual setting where they will eventually practice.

During the interactive workshop, Boscart introduced participants to the 10 building blocks for the Living Classroom, which are grouped under four stages of implementation: exploring the potential of a Living Classroom, developing the foundations, implementation, and promotion and sustainability.

The approach has proven successful with a variety of stakeholders, including residents and families, who report they have been positively impacted by the Living Classroom.

“I really do believe that we can change things,” said Boscart when discussing the current challenges of seniors’ care and the role colleges play in building a workforce that will contribute to the continual improvement of long-term care. “Together we are a lot stronger than we think we are.”

The Living Classroom at Riverside Glen delivers PSW programming, and both PSW and practical nursing students attend classes at The Village of University Gates. To date, more than 800 Conestoga graduates have trained at a Living Classroom and approximately 90 per cent of them continue to work with seniors.

The Schlegel Centre for Advancing Seniors Care at Conestoga College works in collaboration with Schlegel Villages and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging to develop innovative education, improve workforce development and strengthen care practices to support care for seniors and their families across Canada. It provides a hub for collaboration with partners to advance training and practice approaches and share best practices and resources to enhance seniors care and living.

Educating future LTC PSWs through a Living Classroom

The Living Classroom at Perley Rideau is based on a successful model introduced by Conestoga College and the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (CLRI) at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. The program meets all of the requirements for the one-year Ontario College PSW Program Certificate…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care

It’s hard to argue with the numbers. Government of Canada projections indicate that by 2030 nearly one in four Canadians will be over the age of 65. Less than a decade ago, this figure was closer to one in seven. At the same time, the pool of personal support workers (PSWs) in long-term care (LTC) has been declining to the point where the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association (OPSWA) refers to it as “an occupation in crisis.”

One LTC home in Ottawa South is doing something about it. In an effort to recruit motivated new PSWs into careers in long-term healthcare, the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre is going back to school. Or, rather, school is coming to them through an innovative Integrated Personal Support Worker (IPSW) project in partnership with Algonquin College’s School of Health and Community Studies.

They call it the Living Classroom, an interprofessional healthcare education program delivered on-site at the Perley Rideau campus. Working out of a specially outfitted classroom laboratory, Algonquin College PSW students learn theory and skills from their own teachers, and are then able to put what they’ve learned into practice by engaging with residents, families, and healthcare team members inside a real work setting. The first cohort graduated in January 2018.

The Living Classroom at Perley Rideau is based on a successful model introduced by Conestoga College and the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (CLRI) at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. The program meets all of the requirements for the one-year Ontario College PSW Program Certificate.

The environment for this IPSW immersive, shared learning project could not be more ideal. The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre is one of Ontario’s largest and most progressive LTC homes with 250 veteran residents and 200 community residents. It is also an innovative Seniors Village that also includes 139 independent-living apartments and a guest house. The Perley Rideau has a long history in the nation’s capital and was established in its present configuration in 1995. Today, it is served by 800 staff and 350 volunteers, and is rapidly positioning itself as a centre of excellence in frailty-informed care.

According to Director of Clinical Practice Jennifer Plant, plenty of opportunity exists for students to see how PSWs at Perley Rideau are treated as integral members of the healthcare team. The goal of the Living Classroom, she says, is ultimately to produce strong graduates who will want to take up staff positions in LTC.

“It’s very difficult to recruit healthcare professionals into long-term care,” Plant says. “By having the Living Classroom on site, we have an opportunity to showcase what we do so that students can see how our PSWs are valued as peer trainers and as members of our quality improvement teams that recommend, develop and implement leading practices.”

Research Coordinator Enrique Soto, PhD, a sociologist with an extensive background in health care research, has been with Perley Rideau since 2017, and is heavily involved in a comprehensive evaluation of the Living Classroom’s first cohort. The Ontario CLRI at Bruyère is assisting with the qualitative data analysis of the evaluation through the expertise of researcher Shelly Crick, PhD, and in sharing what is being learned through the offices of knowledge broker Michele Fleming.

“We thought this was a great way to partner with people who have the expertise and talent to help us with the evaluation,” Soto says.

Feedback from the participant questionnaires and focus group discussions following the first cohort graduation looks promising. PSW students who chose the immersive Living Classroom model over the standard model of college-based instruction interspersed with periods of clinical practice indicated they were more likely to go on to work as PSWs in LTC.

This is encouraging news to Plant, whose sights are squarely set on attracting strong healthcare recruits. She says that implementing evidence-informed practices such as the Living Classroom supports staff professional growth, which is key in improving the quality of resident care and patient safety.

“We continue to partner with the Ontario CLRI in building our Living Classroom,” Plant says. “We have a common goal in spreading innovation, and we want to make sure we are achieving this by showcasing the rewarding careers we can offer in long-term care.”

Algonquin College Personal Support Worker Program at Bonnechere Manor a Success!

In response to the nation-wide shortage of Personal Support Workers, Bonnechere Manor reached out to their long-time education partner Algonquin College to talk about providing an onsite program at their home. Consistent with the philosophy that Bonnechere Manor is the residents’ home first and foremost, the residents were consulted and enthusiastically welcomed the students into their spaces. Shelley Sheedy, Director of Long-Term Care for the County of Renfrew, says, “This program has truly been a win/win — on May 28, 2019 we held a job fair for area employers of PSWs so that our community could benefit from this partnership as well and this hard-working group of students will gain employment in their community. With our residents, we celebrate the PSW students who participated in the program.”… Continue reading

Reprinted by permission from Manor Banner, Summer 2019

In response to the nation-wide shortage of Personal Support Workers (PSW) — the backbone of nursing and personal care services in long-term care — Bonnechere Manor reached out to their long-time education partner Algonquin College to talk about providing an onsite program at their home. Shelley Sheedy, Director of Long-Term Care for the County of Renfrew, says, “I simply contacted Jamie Bramburger, Acting Dean, last fall and within a couple of discussions, we had an agreement to trial an onsite PSW program at the Manor starting in January 2019.” Mrs. Sheedy notes that, consistent with the philosophy that Bonnechere Manor is the residents’ home first and foremost, the residents were consulted and enthusiastically welcomed the students into their spaces. “This program has truly been a win/win — on May 28, 2019 we held a job fair for area employers of PSWs so that our community could benefit from this partnership as well and this hard-working group of students will gain employment in their community. With our residents, we celebrate the PSW students who participated in the program.”

Bonnechere Manor resident Peter English said, “The students were fantastic! It was wonderful to be able to welcome them into our home as they learned how to be awesome PSWs!”

Jamie Bramburger, Acting Dean at the Pembroke Waterfront Campus, added, “This has been a wonderful partnership and we are so pleased to celebrate the success of our Personal Support Worker students as they complete their program. This is a wonderful example of how the College can collaborate with our community to address labour market challenges for our organizational partners. We congratulate all of our soon to be graduates, and we sincerely thank Bonnechere Manor for their leadership in helping us deliver the program in Renfrew.”

PSW student Richard Leavoy said, “The partnership between the College and Bonnechere Manor has given us students an amazing opportunity to learn and practice in the field all at the same time. Getting to meet and work with the residents and staff was a great experience. This is truly different from any other classroom I’ve been in. The teachers at school really worked hard to make sure we had a great experience and I would highly recommend anyone on the fence to really consider taking this program.”

Based on this positive experience, Bonnechere Manor is excited to be in discussions with Algonquin College about planning another PSW program onsite.

Growing Partnership with Niagara College

In September, Radiant Care and Niagara College will be taking their partnership to a new level by offering an entirely on-site PSW program at Tabor Manor with some unused rooms being converted into living classrooms, complete with Long-Term Care beds and virtual, electronic residents, as well as direct access to Tabor Manor’s Long-Term Care home and Community Support Service program, in order to fulfill program clinical placement requirements…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Radiant Care News

Radiant Care’s growing relationship with Niagara College is improving the lives of employees, residents, tenants, and seniors in our community, with new initiatives on the horizon.

Radiant Care and Niagara College have an ongoing partnership through which Niagara College Nursing students complete clinical placements at Radiant Care to develop their Nursing skills and gain experience working in the Long-Term Care and Community Support Service sectors.

In September, Radiant Care and Niagara College will be taking the partnership to a new level by offering an entirely on-site PSW program at Tabor Manor with some unused rooms being converted into living classrooms, complete with Long-Term Care beds and virtual, electronic residents, as well as direct access to Tabor Manor’s Long-Term Care home and Community Support Service program, in order to fulfill program clinical placement requirements. The innovative curriculum is geared to student needs through modular design, thereby striking a balance between training and work. The first class is scheduled to begin in September, with current enrollment of 24 students. This program will impact clients directly through the provision of contemporary models of care, as well as a steady volume of much-needed skilled workers.

It is through innovative partnerships such as this, that Radiant Care seeks to make an impact in addressing local Health Human Resource challenges for itself and within the broader sector.

Newest Living Classroom opens in Hamilton

Schlegel Villages, the Schlegel-UW Research Institute of Aging (RIA) and Mohawk College have partnered to open a third Living Classroom at the Village of Wentworth Heights in Hamilton. … Continue reading

Schlegel Villages, the Schlegel-UW Research Institute of Aging (RIA) and Mohawk College have partnered to open a third Living Classroom at the Village of Wentworth Heights in Hamilton.

In this new location, Mohawk College students enrolled in the personal support worker program have access to a classroom, computer lab, skills lab, faculty offices, a student lounge and a mock apartment identical to those at the long-term care home where the classroom is embedded. They will also work directly within the Wentworth Heights community right from the start, getting hands-on experience with residents and team members.

The Living Classroom was developed as an innovative educational experience to encourage students to pursue a career path working with older adults. Living Classroom graduates are often better prepared to support the changing needs of the aging population, building workforce capacity in the senior living sector. This model of experiential learning was first developed in partnership with the RIA and Conestoga College.

Crystal Lee, a student enrolled in the Mohawk program is excited by the opportunities the Living Classroom offers. “It means a lot to be in the Village because this is what I want to do, this is my calling. With this experience I think there is a better chance for me to get a job right out of the program.”

At the opening on January 31, James Schlegel, President of Schlegel Villages, talked about the Living Classroom program as an opportunity for learners to be integrated right into the village to enhance their learning experience and enhance the lives of residents as well.

“The Living Classroom creates a rich learning experience for students and encourages Wentworth Heights residents and team members to be part of the learning environment as coaches and mentors thus bringing more meaning to their lives and work respectively — a true triple win!”

The Wentworth Heights program is the third Living Classroom to open at Schlegel Villages. The first opened at the Village of Riverside Glen (Guelph, Ontario) in 2009 and the second opened at The Village of University Gates (Waterloo, Ontario) in 2015 in partnership with the RIA.

Read more about the Living Classroom at Wentworth Heights on the Mohawk College website.