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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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Country Haven-CDSBEO partnership provides incentives to attract and retain PSWs

Students in CDSBEO PSW program have their tuition covered, receive paid training at Almonte Country Haven and are offered jobs at the home after graduating

Given our growing aging population and need for more front-line workers in the long-term care sector, an education/job-placement partnership like the one Almonte Country Haven has with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) is important to helping the long-term care sector attract and retain personal support workers (PSWs), says Anita Plunkett.

Plunkett, an instructor and clinical supervisor with the CDSBEO’s PSW training program, says a major benefit the partnership has is that students are able to earn money when they do their job placement at Almonte Country Haven and are promised a job at the Lanark County long-term care home after completing their training.

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 the home, students who are doing their placement at Almonte Country Haven also have the remaining portion of their tuition covered through OMNI Health Care’s bursary program and are given a job upon graduation.

“Our program tends to have more mature students (who) have families; they might have aging parents they’re taking care of, and sometimes they’re a single parent,” Plunkett explains.

“Some of those barriers to obtaining PSW certification are removed (for students in the partnership program), and they are earning an income while they are in the program.”

Plunkett adds that the partnership is also beneficial because Almonte Country Haven is in a rural community, and it is often challenging for rural health-care providers to attract workers because they don’t have the population.

“So this partnership, where they have the training fees paid for and where they can work while going to school and earning an income, can be an attractive package for people,” Plunkett says.

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Unique partnership between Country Haven and CDSBEO is attracting needed PSWs to LTC

Instructor Anita Plunkett commends the ‘win-win’ collaboration

A partnership between Almonte Country Haven and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) is bringing much-needed personal support workers (PSWs) to the long-term care sector.

To date, six Almonte Country Haven PSWs have graduated from a PSW training program offered by CDSBEO and three more people who are doing their training through the partnership are enrolled this semester. That spells good news for long-term care in the local community, says CDSBEO PSW program instructor Anita Plunkett.

Since early 2020, Almonte Country Haven has participated in the PSW training program offered CDSBEO and supported by the Canadian Career Academy (CCA), an employment agency.

The CDSBEO offers the PSW training program at a comparatively low cost. The CCA has partnered with CDSBEO to cover a portion of students’ tuition through the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG). Students are also permitted to earn money while completing their work placement hours.

Students who are doing their placement at Almonte Country Haven, an 82-bed long-term care home in Lanark County, have the remaining portion of their tuition covered through OMNI Health Care’s bursary program.

“When we first started (the partnership) there was a uniqueness in that, at the time, (the CDSBEO) had not really connected with a home where the home was hiring students while they were in training and connecting them with the Canada-Ontario Job Grant,” Plunkett tells The OMNIway.

“We had not developed that type of relationship with (a long-term care home) up until that point.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Plunkett says there has been a “huge focus on long-term care and the work that PSWs do,” and this makes the Country Haven-CDSBEO partnership timely.

Plunkett says the school board has since connected with other long-term care homes and home-care agencies in the region to help them attract and provide people with PSW training.

The seeds of the collaboration were planted when Almonte Country Haven contacted Plunkett to see if any students in the PSW program were interested in doing a placement at the home.

From there, the CCA was contacted to work out a deal where the employment agency would cover a portion of the students’ tuition through the COJG.

“It’s a three-way connection to get people trained and working at Almonte Country Haven,” Plunkett says.

“Almonte Country Haven is looking for employees, and we can provide the training, so it’s a win-win on both sides.”

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PSW students can receive training and work at Almonte Country Haven through partnership program

There are more than 10 spots available for February intake

Almonte Country Haven PSWs Debbie Burke (left) and Rebecca Smith (right) pose in their caps and gowns at a ceremony their colleagues at the Lanark County long-term care home organized for them.

People interested in a career as a personal support worker (PSW) can have the costs of their studies covered and receive employment at Almonte Country Haven through a partnership the Lanark County long-term care home has entered.

Almonte Country Haven began a workplace partnership this year with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the Canadian Career Academy (CCA) to help provide people interested in careers as PSWs with the required training.

CDSBEO offers a PSW training program at a comparatively low cost and has also partnered with CCA to cover a portion of students’ tuition. Students are also permitted to earn money while completing their work placement hours.

Almonte Country Haven was approached by CDSBEO and CCA and asked if the home was interested in becoming a workplace partner.

Carolyn Della Foresta, Almonte Country Haven’s administrator, says the home didn’t hesitate to get involved. OMNI Health Care, which owns Almonte Country Haven, also offered to help.

“We, of course, jumped at this amazing opportunity, and OMNI kindly offered to cover, through the OMNI bursary program, the portion of the program that CCA did not cover,” she tells The OMNIway.

“This meant that any prospective student that was interested in the program would have the cost covered, would complete their placement with us, while earning money, and had guaranteed employment with us here at Almonte Country Haven during and post-graduation.”

The first two Almonte Country Haven PSWs to receive training through this partnership – Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith – graduated in October.

Currently, there are four Almonte Country Haven team members enrolled in the PSW program who will graduate in January.

There are currently more than 10 spaces available for the PSW training program that will start in February, and Almonte Country Haven is looking for more to join.

Anyone interested in PSW training through this partnership can contact Carolyn at 613-256-3095, ext. 222.

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