New local program for PSWs offers large incentives

March 20, 2024 – Arnprior Regional Health (ARH) is participating in the Living Classroom program for Personal Support Workers with Willis College. With a hybrid learning environment, local clinical placement at the Grove Home, over $15,000 in incentives, and guaranteed immediate employment with ARH for graduates who meet employment requirements, this program aims to entice future PSWS to Arnprior and the Valley.

This 30-week hybrid program will see students studying online for the theory portion of their coursework and attending in-person skills sessions at the Old Grove building in Arnprior. The 8-week clinical placement portion will take place at the new Grove Home.

Financial incentives

Students can receive up to $5,440 during their clinical placement, and graduates will receive $10,000 in exchange for a 12-month commitment to a long-term care (LTC) facility as part of an incentive from Ontario Health. Once students have successfully completed the program and meet the employment requirements, ARH offers guaranteed, immediate employment.

“This is such a great solution for all involved,” says Jennifer Powley, VP Seniors Care, Long Term Care & Community Programs at ARH. “The program will use the otherwise unused space in the old Grove building while the Board maps out what will happen there long-term. Students in the Valley won’t need to commute to Ottawa for in-person components of the program. And we can integrate students into our Grove team right from the start, so when they start their career they can feel confident in the team they are joining.”

Andrea McClymont, VP Human Resources, agrees. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students. They will get real hands-on experience alongside residents and staff right here in Arnprior. It is a great chance for reciprocal learning and mentorship. And students who meet the employment requirements will have a job waiting for them when they graduate.”

The need for PSWs is growing

Today, over 90% of residents in LTC have two or more chronic conditions and two-thirds of residents have dementia. The complexity of needs of residents is sharply increasing, and PSWs play an integral role in addressing those needs: providing support for activities of daily living, social engagement, comfort, and community. PSWs are often the first to report changes in a resident’s needs and liaise with friends and families.

Currently, PSWs comprise 72.3% of nursing and support staff in long-term care. But as the needs of residents become more complex, the healthcare workload increases. There simply are not enough PSWs to meet the critical demand.

Addressing workforce challenges

Provincial initiatives provide significant financial incentive to enter the PSW program.

But there is often a disconnect between classroom learning and real-world working conditions. A report from the Waterloo Local Health Integration Network in 2018 noted that many PSW graduates fail to enter the profession.

The Living Classroom program provides a unique opportunity for students to be integrated in an experiential learning environment, where theoretical concepts can be immediately translated into practical experience. Working directly with LTC staff and residents solidifies classroom learning and offers exposure to a variety of mentors and role models.

A Living Classroom also provides students the opportunity to work and learn in their community, rather than commuting to a city-centre.

Students who successfully complete the program and meet the employment requirements will graduate as workforce ready PSWs with guaranteed, immediate employment at a long-term care home in their local community.

The first Living Classroom will commence in Arnprior on June 10th, 2024. Students interested in applying can click here for more information.

Willis College offers a $250 referral bonus for anyone who successfully refers someone to the program. For more information, click here.