The first graduates of the Near North District School Board’s (NNDSB) personal support worker (PSW) program are already filling labour gaps in our local area.
The program began in February and 24 students graduated this month. All of them are hired or have been offered employment in the field.
Lisa Spencer, NNDSB’s Secondary Program Coordinator, SHSM and Experiential Learning says 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.
Spencer says the wrap-around support that students received since inquiring about the program has helped develop “confident and proud PSWs” who graduated ready to begin their careers as frontline healthcare workers.
The living classroom, however, offers what many believe is an advantage in training. Spencer says having the ability to learn on the floor means that students are instructed in the classroom, and their education is deepened by what they learn from the PSWs and nurses who work there.
In Parry Sound, both instructor Nicole Robinson and Belvedere Heights administrator Kami Johnson say the ability to learn in class and then practice on the floor “enriches the learning opportunities for students and enhances the relationships between students and staff, and students and residents”.
For example, the students were able to provide palliative care to a resident, and they supplemented in-class learning by practicing and by watching the staff.
The students are also invited to Belvedere Heights training sessions, so they are learning about new techniques and equipment.
“Hands down, this is the best way to learn,” enthuses Robinson. “The staff embrace my students and go the extra mile for them. They have been welcoming because they could be their next co-workers.”
Johnson echoes that sentiment, adding that there has been a hugely positive effect on residents.
Johnson adds she is excited to continue supporting the PSW program, and also welcomes secondary school students who may want to try a co-operative education placement at the home.
The program will be running 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. For more information on the program and intake requirements, visit the board’s website (click here).
**Written by Brad Aubin