Instructor predicts training program’s partnership with Country Haven ‘will only grow’

Anita Plunkett also sees opportunities to strengthen the collaboration

When asked what the future looks like for the partnership the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario’s (CDSBEO’s) personal support worker (PSW) training program has with Almonte Country Haven, Anita Plunkett doesn’t hesitate in her reply.

“I think it will only grow,” Plunkett, an instructor and clinical supervisor with the training program, tells The OMNIway.

In October, Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith became the first Almonte Country Haven team members to graduate from the partnership program.

In February, four more Almonte Country Haven team members – Tiffany Brydge, Sheila Warren, Rebekah Lafontaine and Tracie Boyd – completed their PSW training.

Three students are enrolled in the program for this semester and people have been signing up for the September intake.

The partnership between the Lanark County long-term care home and the program removes financial barriers for students and secures positions at Country Haven when they graduate – key benefits that make the program attractive for those looking to start a new career, Plunkett says.

The CDSBEO offers a PSW training program at a comparatively low cost. The CDSBEO has partnered with the Canadian Career Academy to cover a portion of students’ tuition through the Canada-Ontario Job Grant.

Students are also permitted to earn money while completing their work placement hours.

As part of the CDSBEO’s partnership with Almonte Country Haven, which began in early 2020, students who are doing their placement at the home also have the remaining portion of their tuition covered through OMNI Health Care’s bursary program and are given a job upon graduation.

Plunkett says she sees possible opportunities to strengthen the collaboration.

With many Ontario long-term care homes receiving redevelopment funding – including Almonte Country Haven, where work is well underway to expand the home from 82 beds to 96 – Plunkett says she hopes there are opportunities ahead to enhance PSW training inside the more spacious homes.

For example, living classrooms, where students engage in interactive learning with their instructors, long-term-care home residents and staff, are becoming popular.

Living classrooms, Plunkett says, would be ideal for everyone involved in the partnership program.

“The home gets to see the students in action, and they can pick who they want as employees, and the students get the advantage of being right in the home to do their training, which is fantastic,” she says.

– This is Part 4 of a four-part story series

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