Changing the Impact of Nursing Assistants’ Education in Seniors’ Care: The Living Classroom in Long-Term Care

Evidence-informed care to support seniors is based on strong knowledge and skills of nursing assistants (NAs). Currently, there are insufficient NAs in the workforce, and new graduates are not always attracted to nursing home (NH) sectors because of limited exposure and lack of confidence. Innovative collaborative approaches are required to prepare NAs to care for seniors. The Living Classroom is an effective learning approach with a positive and high-impact learning experience for all. The Living Classroom is instrumental in contributing to a capable workforce caring for seniors…. Continue reading

Veronique M. Boscart, Josie d’Avernas, Paul Brown, and Marlene Raasok
Canadian Geriatrics Journal, Vol 20, No 1, March 2017

https://doi.org/10.5770/cgj.20.238

Abstract

Background

Evidence-informed care to support seniors is based on strong knowledge and skills of nursing assistants (NAs). Currently, there are insufficient NAs in the workforce, and new graduates are not always attracted to nursing home (NH) sectors because of limited exposure and lack of confidence. Innovative collaborative approaches are required to prepare NAs to care for seniors.

Methods

A 2009 collaboration between a NH group and a community college resulted in the Living Classroom (LC), a collaborative approach to integrated learning where NA students, college faculty, NH teams, residents, and families engage in a culture of learning. This approach situates the learner within the NH where knowledge, team dynamics, relationships, behaviours, and inter-professional (IP) practice are modelled.

Results

As of today, over 300 NA students have successfully completed this program. NA students indicate high satisfaction with the LC and have an increased intention to seek employment in NHs. Faculty, NH teams, residents, and families have increased positive beliefs towards educating students in a NH.

Conclusion

The LC is an effective learning approach with a positive and high impact learning experience for all. The LC is instrumental in contributing to a capable workforce caring for seniors.

Read the full text of the study.

Algonquin College to open classroom of the future at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre

Algonquin College and The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre have entered a formal partnership that will see the creation of a ground-breaking health-care classroom and learning environment. The two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding today that outlines the joint plans to create and consult on the delivery of educational programs, clinical services and research initiatives. Under the new agreement, the College’s Personal Support Worker students will work with the Health Centre’s senior clients and have access to its expertise and resources…. Continue reading

Reprinted from Algonquin College News

Algonquin College and The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre have entered a formal partnership that will see the creation of a ground-breaking health-care classroom and learning environment.

The two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding today that outlines the joint plans to create and consult on the delivery of educational programs, clinical services and research initiatives. Under the new agreement, the College’s Personal Support Worker students will work with the Health Centre’s senior clients and have access to its expertise and resources.

“The signing of this Memorandum signifies a great opportunity for excellent work-integrated learning for our College’s Personal Support Worker students as they draw on the expertise and facilities found at Perley Rideau,” said Cheryl Jensen, President of Algonquin College. “We look forward working alongside our Perley Rideau partners as we train the health-care workers of the future.”

Speaking on the importance of this collaboration, Chief Executive Officer of Perley Rideau Akos Hoffer explained: “This takes our long-standing partnership with Algonquin College to the next level. We look forward to supporting the creation of a differentiated learning experience that will develop news skills and new sensitivities for the PSWs training in our home.”

The agreement also paves the way for an integrated Personal Support Workers program that will locate Algonquin College Personal Support Worker students on the Perley Rideau campus to leverage access to classroom, laboratory, clinical and community learning environments in Ottawa.

The Algonquin College Personal Support Worker program prepares students to work in a health-care setting with individuals who require assistance to remain as independent as possible.

The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre is a not-for-profit centre for healthy living with a unique focus on providing health care for veterans and seniors in Ottawa.

Recognizing Excellence in the Living Classrooms

Allyssa Wein and Leanne Taylor were among several students from the Living Classrooms to be recognized for dedication and leadership in their respective programs at Conestoga College’s annual awards celebration in early April…. Continue reading

Kristian Partington, Research Matters, June 2016

While studying health sciences, Allyssa Wein took a part-time job at a long-term care home in London, Ontario to help offset the cost of her education. That position would end up shifting her career prospects significantly, leading her into the practical nursing program offered in the Living Classroom at the Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Aging, a partnership with Conestoga College, RIA and Schlegel Villages.

“That job that I worked at was a huge eye opener and I knew that I wanted to get into nursing,” Allyssa says. “Originally it was just a part-time job to pay my way through school
and then I realized that it was something that I wanted to do forever.”

Like Allyssa, Leanne Taylor also discovered that her path in life leads towards a career serving others, and she recently completed the Personal Support Worker training program at Conestoga College’s other Living Classroom at the Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph.

Both Allyssa and Leanne were among several students from the Living Classrooms to be recognized for dedication and leadership in their respective programs at Conestoga College’s annual awards celebration in early April. Alyssa received the Third Age Learning Academic Grant and TD Financial Group award, while Leanne was among two students to receive a Schlegel Scholarship for Aging, given to students of the living classroom who are outstanding team players and seek innovative solutions while assuming a leadership role with their peers.

“I’m so glad I did this,” Leanne says, considering her choice to become a PSW with the hands-on education provided within the Living Classroom model. “Because we got to go upstairs (to the Village) we got more experience actually working with the residents, and I would suggest for people to do the Living Classroom if they have a choice.”

Leanne was surprised to learn she was among the scholarship recipients, she says, but happy to accept the award and the affirmation it offers that she has chosen her career path wisely. She recently accepted a position in a long-term care home and says the greatest lesson she will take to her new role centres on the word “respect.”

“For me the biggest thing is the one-on-one care with the residents, trying to build relationships,” she says. “For me, it’s not just a job.”

Allyssa is still only mid-way through her program and she intends to continue soaking up every opportunity presented through the Living Classroom to connect with the residents who live at the Village at University Gates. She recently began volunteering on top of her studies, hoping to gain even more insight into life in long-term care while creating deeper connections to the residents.
“Being part of the long-term care home and the living classroom, it appeals that much more to me because I know I want to eventually work with older adults,” Allyssa says. Having that experience right on site offers all she hoped for when she applied to the program, she adds, and receiving the awards was a pleasant surprise – a point of pride and a recognition of the hard work that has gone into her studies thus far as she works towards a future supporting older adults.

Residents Adopting Students in the Village at University Gates

When the idea was first conceived of building a new, 192-bed long-term care village in Waterloo that would tie together research, education and practice related to aging, partnership and shared learning was always the vision. That vision seems to be playing out beautifully…. Continue reading

The Importance of Relationships Highlighted for Nursing and PSW Students

Kristian Partington, The Village Voice, March 31, 2016

When the idea was first conceived of building a new, 192-bed long-term care village in Waterloo that would tie together research, education and practice related to aging, partnership and shared learning was always the vision.

Researchers with the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) would be right next door while Conestoga College practical nursing (PN) and personal support worker (PSW) students would study in the state-of-the-art Living Classrooms downstairs. All the while, residents and team members at the village would carry on with their daily lives. The hope was that as neighbours, all three entities would interact naturally providing new opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas and experiences that would inspire the continual evolution of care and support for our aging citizens.

“From the get-go it’s been important for us at University Gates to have those partnerships alive,” says recreation director Hilary Balaban, pointing to the Adopt-a-Student program as one of the prime the examples of these partnerships in action. When Sharon Clarke, Conestoga’s PSW and PN coordinator at University Gates, approached Hilary with the idea of pairing residents with students, there was no hesitation. Hilary envisioned residents bestowing wisdom upon the soon-to-be caregivers and Sharon saw the concept as an opportunity for residents to find new meaning in their lives by mentoring the students.

There were 40 pairings in the first semester and the program has flourished in many ways. Hilary has overheard residents speaking with their students about everyday life lessons like finance or family, and she sees true companionship growing among the participants.

“The research tells us that the older adult, especially in long-term care, is lonely, bored and lacks purpose,” explains Sharon. Bringing residents together with students could help alleviate some of these challenges, she thought, while providing students with a new understanding of the importance of reciprocal relationships in any caregiving environment.

That vision seems to be playing out beautifully.

First-year PN student Brenda Foss says that long-term care wasn’t necessarily on her radar when she decided to study nursing, Her time in the aging and development class and her experience at University Gates has offered her new insights, however.

As an adopted student in that first semester, Brenda embraced every opportunity she had to visit and develop the relationship with her mentor. “As I would go up to visit with her I could see practically what I was learning in the classroom and I was able to identify different things in her behaviours and her attitudes,” Brenda says. And beyond that, she was able to discover the person behind the “patient” in a meaningful way, looking at a more holistic approach to nursing that a textbook can’t necessarily convey.

“The physical is important but there’s so much more,” Brenda says. “There’s the spiritual – there’s the whole soul of a person that really needs to be taken care of.”

Relationships are at the core of high quality care, many would argue. Thanks to the partnerships that flourish at University Gates, Conestoga students are immersed in this reality from the beginning of their lessons and the people they serve in the future will be the true beneficiaries.

The Grand Vision Becomes a Reality

It was about 10 years ago when Dr. Mike Sharratt, then dean of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo, first shared a conversation with Ron Schlegel about the possibility of a Research Institute focused entirely on issues related to aging…. Continue reading

Opening the doors to the RIA, University Gates and the new Living Classrooms

Kristian Partington, Research Matters, October 2015

It was about 10 years ago when Dr. Mike Sharratt, then dean of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo, first shared a conversation with Ron Schlegel about the possibility of a Research Institute focused entirely on issues related to aging. The idea always centred on a three-way convergence of research, education and practice housed in one location, and though there was no shortage of hurdles and obstacles to overcome, it is with great joy that Mike now sits in his office at the new RIA headquarters, discussing the vision that became a reality.

As he speaks, a group of Conestoga College practical nursing students are working their way through their second day of classes in the living classrooms below, while the team next door at Schlegel Villages’ newest 192-bed village, University Gates, prepares to welcome an additional six residents to their new home. Each day brings more.

“The magic of this is bringing the students together with researchers and with the residents,” Mike says. “Just the fact that they’re in this environment with all of these intersections changes the way they think about their education; it’s the togetherness that’s important to all of us.”

These future caregivers are immersed in an environment that few others will ever fully experience and that, says Mike, will hopefully inspire them to consider a career serving older adults in our communities. Their classrooms are fully equipped with simulation labs that offer a first glimpse of what their futures may bring and as their training progresses, they’ll have the opportunity to witness firsthand how the team next door at University Gates approaches the care of those they serve.

In addition, the wide variety of research projects currently underway at the RIA – dealing with everything from falls prevention and pain management to nutrition and vascular health – will have a direct impact on both the curriculum future caregivers are offered and the care practices used to support older adults. Many of these projects will take place in the state-of-the-art research labs located on the second floor; that this is all offered under one roof is the realization of a grand vision, and excitement seems to vibrate throughout the building.

“The partnerships, with University Gates next door and the Research Institute for Aging, that’s the big plus,” says Sharon Clark, the PSW and PN coordinator for Conestoga College’s programs at The Village at University Gates. When she imagines the possibilities she envisions a reciprocal connection between the students she serves and the RIA researchers upstairs.

The students, Sharon says, “will hear about some of the newest things that are being looked at in the RIA . . . but I’m also hoping it will go a little bit the other way as we get more intertwined and some of the students’ questions may tweak the researchers’ interest.”

Mike agrees that this proximity among students, educators, practitioners and researchers offers huge potential payoffs.

“One of the most significant things about this is, we talk about research to practice but people don’t really talk much about practice to research,” he says. “When you’re together and there’s more face-to-face I think there’s going to be a little more balance between research to practice and the practice to research.”

Living Classroom Honoured at Riverside Glen

Last fall, as the time drew near for a small class of Conestoga College practical nursing students to consider graduation, The Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph was the only logical place that sprang to mind as the venue for the ceremony. … Continue reading

Practical Nursing students graduate at the village that nurtured them

Kristian Partington, Schlegel Villages News, February 24, 2015

Last fall, as the time drew near for a small class of Conestoga College practical nursing students to consider graduation, The Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph was the only logical place that sprang to mind as the venue for the ceremony.

The students studied at the village, part of the unique Living Classroom concept that allows future nurses to immerse themselves in a potential work environment. In this way, the students become part of the village, and the residents and team members there are guides, helping move beyond the textbook to the practical realities of nursing.

“That was home to us,” says Teshaynah Maycock, the cohort’s valedictorian. “We love the environment and we chose that campus because we love the idea of the living classroom.”

She says it was easy for the students to make the decision to honour the role the village played in their education and thank their hosts by holding the ceremony there. “When we started the program, there was only 40 of us in the beginning and we all became like a little family, we became each other’s support system,” Teshaynah says.

In previous years, the students would merge with the larger college campus at graduation time, yet Teshaynah says that didn’t feel right; their connection was to the village and together with their loved ones and the Riverside Glen family, they marked an important milestone in their lives in December.

Amy Stiles has taught hundreds of nursing students in the Living Classroom at Riverside Glen and says she was touched that this cohort chose to involve the village so intimately in the graduation.
“They really wanted to stick with their own group and have something that was personal and meaningful to them,” Amy says. “It really just goes to show us how much they appreciate being here; they make friends with the residents and the team and they felt really as though they were part of the team here, so it’s really rewarding for us, because that’s our goal here at the Living Classroom.”

Today, two months after the graduation, the graduated nurses are now in the process of officially registering and looking for work. Teshaynah has her sights set on a position within a cardiac unit at a large hospital while bridging towards a full Registered Nurse designation and eventually pursuing a master’s degree. There is much ahead of her, to be sure, but with the foundation she created during her time in the Living Classroom she’s well prepared for any ambitions she pursues, and the village will always hold a special place in her memory.

Seniors’ facility will be a ‘living classroom’

Hailed as a first of its kind in the world, a new long-term care facility where researchers will work side by side with elderly residents will soon rise out of a pasture on the University of Waterloo’s northwestern edge.

The $30-million, 192-bed facility — a partnership involving the province, retirement residence owner Schlegel Villages, UW and Conestoga College — will be a “living classroom” where students can train and gerontological experts can research better care for seniors.

It’s the first phase of a three-phase project, with a health-care centre, and an assisted living and independent living addition to be built later. Each will cost about $50 million, for a total project construction cost of about $130 million.

It’s believed this kind of “teaching hospital”-style seniors’ facility, to be run by the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, has never been built before. The centre will be built on university land near the Laurel Creek Conservation Area.

Ron Schlegel, the man whose donation of $6 million in 2005 created the Research Institute for Aging, and whose family is contributing another $48 million to this new expansion, said the primary goal is dealing with the demographic time bomb he called an “aging tsunami.” The number of seniors in Ontario is expected to double within 20 years.

“As far as we know, this will be a world-leading centre. Now it’s a matter of growing it and making it known around the world that we have answers,” he said. “What’s learned here will be shared across Ontario and beyond.”

Schlegel’s privately held Schlegel Villages operates long-term care facilities in a number of Ontario communities, including the Village of Winston Park in Kitchener. He hopes the research from this new project will help get more seniors out of hospitals and long-term care facilities and into community-based care or allow them to live longer in their own homes.

Those kinds of alternatives can save governments money and give the elderly a better quality of life, he said.

The province is contributing $20 million toward the long-term care home’s construction, with Schlegel Villages investing the remainder of the cost.

The Schlegel family will also contribute $3 million to the capital costs of the learning, research and innovation centre, and the province is contributing $625,000 a year for curriculum and to disseminate research conducted at the centre.

It’s expected that the work done at the new facility will help direct the province’s policies around elderly care.

“We can’t do business as usual anymore,” said Leeanna Pendergast, the MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga who has spent years lobbying for the centre. “Just throwing more long-term beds at the problem is not the solution.”

As part of the project, the Schlegel family is providing $45 million over 20 years to fund 14 research chairs in aging at UW, where they’re already studying such things as brain health, elderly nutrition and geriatric medicine, and Conestoga College, for the study of enhanced senior care. Four chairs at UW and the chair at Conestoga College have already been established.

Conestoga College will also establish a satellite campus at the centre, where students will get hands-on training with the elderly.

Feridun Hamdullahpur, the university’s president, called the new centre a critical milestone in his institution’s history. Canada’s aging population will put major pressures on our health care system, and UW is eager to help find some solutions, he said.

“This is a huge challenge. We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and if left unattended, it’s going to come back and really cripple our society,” he said.

Residents will apply for a bed at the yet-to-be built facility through the province’s Community Care Access Centre, as if it were any other nursing home. They’ll pay similar rates, too.

Although it will be a research and teaching facility, improving residents’ quality of life and care will be the priority, said Mike Sharratt, executive director of the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging.

All residents or their families will need to give consent to be part of research projects, he said.

“They won’t be guinea pigs,” Sharratt said.

Instead, residents will get access to cutting-edge care, highly trained staff and expertise all under one roof, he said.

“We’ve already been doing this work for years. This is just a catalyst for something much bigger … We want to change the whole system,” he said.

Construction on the 192-bed facility is to begin in late 2012 and be finished by late spring 2014.

This article originally appeared online at http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/586420–seniors-facility-will-be-a-living-classroom, written by Greg Mercer, Record Staff