What is a Living Classroom?

The Living Classroom is a partnership model that integrates education into a long-term care or retirement home to support workforce development in senior living. Students, faculty, and those living, visiting and working in the home engage in a culture of shared learning. Students gain real-life experience and are well prepared for a career in senior living. Residents, families and team members from the home benefit from student engagement and provide mentorship opportunities. The model was first implemented in Ontario through a partnership with Conestoga College, the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging and Schlegel Villages.

Photo of Josie D'Avernas“The Living Classroom brings a culture of learning and innovation to the LTC home in which it operates and beyond, to LTC homes where graduates go to work. Where else can you get classroom training, practice in skills labs, and real-life experience alongside residents and staff in a LTC home? This is experience-based learning at its best – not only for students but also for those living and working in LTC.”

— Josie d’Avernas, former Executive Director, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging

The LC extends the educational and workforce capacity of both post-secondary educators (PSEs) and long-term care (LTC) homes, to meet increasing and changing workforce needs for personal support workers (PSWs).

The LC addresses four important public policy objectives that are foundational to all PSEs and LTC homes:

  • Access: Living Classrooms increase student enrollment in educational programs such as the PSW program, by bringing education closer to prospective students and by locating programs within communities that do not have an existing PSE program;
  • Education Capacity: Living Classrooms enhance the education capacity within LTC homes and PSEs by demonstrating the teaching and learning value of these settings. The LC promotes continuous learning and teaching among existing LTC teams and PSE faculty, and sharing of best practices and evidenced-based care from student-staff interactions;
  • Workforce Capacity: Living Classrooms graduate more PSWs with an interest to work in LTC by creating new opportunities for beneficial interaction with residents and families and by fostering a life-learning environment within LTC for students and staff; and
  • Quality and Sustainability: Living Classrooms graduate individuals with skills that prepare them for careers working with older adults and provide opportunities to develop (and share) new approaches for practice learning in LTC homes. Another goal is to graduate individuals with enhanced motivation to become contributors and change agents for continual improvement in LTC.
Photo of students checking blood pressure
Students in the Living Classroom at University Gates

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