NNDSB Launches Innovative PSW Living Classroom Program At Cassellholme North Bay

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PSWs are often referred to as the backbone of healthcare. Here, a PSW is seen with a resident of Cassellholme

Near North District School Board (NNDSB) is excited to announce the first of what it hopes will be many sustainable partnerships with long-term care facilities in all regions of the NNDSB.

NNDSB is proud to partner with Cassellholme in North Bay to provide Personal Support Worker (PSW) training in a living classroom environment at Cassellholme. Participants in the program will do their theoretical learning in a classroom at Cassellholme, then be able to apply those skills on the floor of the long-term care home, without having to wait for theory work to end before experiencing placement.

NNDSB hopes to help fill a growing demand for trained PSWs and to provide people 18 years of age and older with an exciting career path. NNDSB will work closely with community partners to establish a hands-on program, inclusive of placements, in partnered long-term care facilities.

A PSW looks after the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of someone who is not able to do so themselves, frequently in the elderly population. The main responsibilities of a PSW include ensuring the patient has healthy and nutritious meals, helping with daily tasks and working with an interdisciplinary team to ensure the best quality of care.

People who do not currently possess their Grade 12 are also eligible. This unique program allows NNDSB to support students in completing their OSSD in tandem with this program. If you are interested, you can request an educational assessment by contacting Vice-Principal Sarah Spence at Laurentian Learning Centre, 705-472-5419.

NNDSB Director of Education Craig Myles has been instrumental in seeking out opportunities for the board to provide innovative programming. He stated, “Providing this type of opportunity is extremely important to the Near North community in that it serves adult students who need that leg up to a diploma and a rewarding career with many opportunities for growth. The program supports an emergent and vital need for the Near North region. We are proud to offer programs that support students and respond to a community need.”

Supported by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, the student costs for this specialty program will be subsidized. Successful students of this program will become fully qualified as a PSW. The PSW program can be only the beginning of a journey into many healthcare opportunities. PSWs are employed in many care sectors such as homecare and assisted living and in varied long-term care facilities.

NNDSB’s partner in this program, Cassellholme, has engaged employees in continued opportunities to learn as they earn and seek certification as Registered Practical Nurses (RPN), Registered Nurses (RN) or Registered Nurse Practitioners (NP). “Cassellholme is always looking for ways to be a community partner. By working with NNDSB, we can help foster a new generation of healthcare professionals which may very well be someone’s first step to a rewarding career,” said Cassellholme Chair Chris Mayne.

NNDSB is in the process of hiring a qualified instructor who is a RN or a NP with experience working in this field. Excited to start, NNDSB is aiming for the new year to begin this program. Registration is planned for January with an expected start of February 2022.

Spaces are limited. Anyone interested should plan to attend one of the two following information sessions: Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. online or Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. online. (Teams meeting information is hyperlinked.)

Near North District School Board Chair Jay Aspin said, “This is another proud moment for Near North District School Board in supporting our community. This innovative new program aligns with the Board goals of excellence in innovation and excellence in building relationships. We are enthused to work in partnership with Cassellholme and Ontario Health on what looks like just the beginning of highly rewarding programming in the North.”

“This partnership is a good example of increasing the accessibility of PSW training and education – a focus area of the North East Ontario Regional PSW Workforce Steering Committee,” said Michel O’Connor, Ontario Health North Eastern Region. The committee has come together to identify and to socialize some of the challenges affecting the retention, the recruitment and the sustainability of the PSW workforce. “We hope that the success of this collaboration will be sustained in the future and that the area will benefit from the investment in health human resources required to deliver healthcare services,” he said.

NNDSB is seeking partnerships with local long-term care homes in all regions of the board to re-engage learners who are 18+ interested in training to become a PSW. Any long-term care homes interested in partnering should contact Liana Blaskievich, NNDSB’s Officer Corporate Affairs at 705-472-8170 ext. 5056 or liana.blaskievich@nearnorthschools.ca.

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