Smart Education in Canada : St. Joseph’s Care Group and Confederation College working together to meet high demand for Personal Support Workers

St. Joseph’s Care Group (SJCG) is working collaboratively with Confederation College to meet the growing demand for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in Northwestern Ontario.

PSWs help people with the tasks of daily living, such as home management, personal care, family responsibilities, social and recreational activities. As unregulated healthcare providers, PSWs work under the supervision of Registered Nurses or Registered Practical Nurses in hospital, community and long-term care home settings.

We anticipate that by this time next year, we will need approximately 40 additional PSWs in our organization alone,” said Tracy Buckler, SJCG’s President & CEO. “I encourage anyone who is interested in a fulfilling career to consider becoming a PSW. It’s a satisfying job, where you can help people live with dignity and respect.”

To help meet SJCG’s needs – and a growing demand across the region – Confederation College is currently accepting applications for winter intake into its Personal Support Worker Accelerated Program, said Jim Madder, President of Confederation College. Classes will begin in January 2015.

The PSW Accelerated Program offers a way for students to “fast track” their studies through a compressed 22-week program. With a field placement component, this program is intended to meet the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care guidelines. Graduates of the program will be fully prepared for a career as a PSW.

“Our Personal Support Worker Accelerated Program was established to meet the high demand for qualified professionals in the industry,” Madder said. “We know our graduates play an important role in the field and look forward to supporting many more students in their pursuit of a rewarding career as a PSW.”

Shane Hintikka is a graduate of Confederation College’s one-year PSW program. He pursued a second career when the mill he worked at as a supervisor closed down. Hintikka decided to become a PSW for two reasons: his passion for seniors and his desire to help others.

“When you're a PSW, the important thing to realize is that the seniors don't live where you work, you work where they live; it’s their home,” said Hintikka, who has worked at SJCG’s Bethammi Nursing Home for the past four years. “Therefore, treat them with respect. Allow them to make decisions about the small choices they have left, because in many cases, that is the only bit of independence they have left. The quality of care and compassion you show the residents is crucial.”

Jackie McDonald agrees. She too is a graduate of Confederation College and has worked at Bethammi for 12 years.

“It is a commitment you make to your residents, to respect and care for them as they need and want,” McDonald said. “The work we do is so personal and life-changing for the residents. Being a PSW is a good paying job that gives you satisfaction for doing something meaningful for another human being.”

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