College, home for aged launch PSW program

District of Kenora Home for the Aged personal support worker Danielle Planes clowning around with nursing home resident.

Confederation College and the District of Kenora Home for the Aged (DKH) have launched a Living Classroom Personal Support Worker (PSW) program to more closely align education with work experience.

The model combines classroom and real-life experiences to support students in completing the PSW certificate program.

“The goal is to provide students with a unique, hands-on learning opportunity to facilitate their completion of the PSW program while also working to address the shortage of PSWs in our community,” said Laura Christie, director of Confederation College’s Lake of the Woods Campus. “Students will be able to immediately apply the theory they learn in the classroom by practising their skills at Pinecrest Home for the Aged. They’ll also gain meaningful part-time employment at Pinecrest when they’re not fulfilling program requirements.”

The inter-professional, interactive learning environment at Pinecrest will help students gain the knowledge and confidence needed to succeed in a career in long-term care.

Dannielle Planes, a personal support worker and graduate of the accelerated PSW program at Confederation College’s Lake of the Woods Campus, has no regrets about her career choice.

“I wanted to work with seniors because of their life experiences and the respect they have for people,” said Planes. “I enjoy the interaction that I have with the residents – whether it’s the intimate care we’re giving, offering some reassurance and support when they need it, or indulging in a quick waltz in the hallway with a resident who loves to dance. It’s all very rewarding.

“What you get out of this job is probably more than you put into it,” she added. “It’s not just wiping noses and feeding people. It’s about bringing comfort and companionship to people in need. The residents hold quite a spot in our hearts.”

The majority of employees at the District of Kenora Home for the Aged are Confederation College graduates.

“Confederation graduates have a solid educational foundation and great hands-on experience,” said Michelle Spencer, manager of human resources at DKH.

“Being able to learn within their community, they become more invested and once hired, are quick to understand that our organizational culture at DKH is to treat our residents as family. The residents don’t live in our workplace. We work in their home. Confederation alumni get that.”

Spencer noted that the new Living Classroom model will further that understanding even more. “We have a longstanding partnership with Confederation College and this new collaboration will take that to a new level. It’s truly win-win for all involved, most importantly the students and our residents.”

In addition to providing the opportunity to work part-time while completing the program, the District of Kenora Home for the Aged will also be providing options for tuition assistance in the form of interest-free loans.

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