If you’ve been keeping your finger on the pulse of healthcare since COVID-19, you’re aware of the long-term care crisis and the dire need for personal support workers (PSWs). This sparked a response from the Ontario government by way of an $86 million investment in the training of up to 8000 PSWs, part of their Long-Term Care Staffing Plan.
Anderson College answered that call, and our team is working tirelessly to train and support those future professionals on their road to success; and this is what we’re celebrating.
We had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Campbell, PSW Instructor, Anderson College – London Campus, and she shared how the program has been progressing, and particularly the latest student, and proud-team, triumph.
We asked Jennifer to tell us about the government funding, the impact it’s having and what they’re celebrating most recently.
“In my latest performance review, I was, obviously, asked about my ability to demonstrate improvement. You know how it’s hard to talk about yourself? Well, I had no trouble taking about this latest class, our amazing group of PSWs.
“We’ve had three rounds of Ontario government PSW funding, and as you can imagine this has brought really large numbers of students to our Anderson College, London Campus. I’m proud of every group, but this last one, in the collective accomplishment, was particularly impressive.
“This group was so big that we had to divide the group in half. 30 students came into the college and did the entire course, all of the theory and skills training in preparation for their placements, in-class, onsite. The other half were able to come in for their exams and for their skills training at the end, but they primarily did their course online.
“For this to work, myself and the instructors, all had to work together to make sure that the calendar really flowed and that we were able to work with everyone that needed a little bit of extra support, when it came to exams or any of the hands-on skills portion.
“On September 26th, 2022, we brought 60 students on board; on March 6th, 2023, all 60 students had successfully completed their coursework and began their placements. This is, of course, the hope we have for every student, every class, but as you can imagine there are usually a few students who, for various reasons, are unable to complete their program. Not in this case, this time, the entire class will graduate.”
We asked Jennifer what made this situation different, how was the team able to see every student through this time?
“We really just follow the curriculum, and it’s solid, blending theoretical with practical training, getting them ready for the workplace. But we also have a really good team, our instructors all work so well together. In working with students in class and online we had to be on the same page, and provide the support and constant check-ins students needed to make sure they had the understanding they needed.”
We were curious as to what this government funding and this kind of training will mean for students, for future professionals.
“It’s great that there is an effort being made to bring more PSWs into the field; it’s essential. The federal government also announced that the minimum wage for PSWs will be raised to $25.00 per hour. This is exciting for our students, our graduates; they’re going from getting minimum wage jobs to now starting at $25 an hour. This allows for a significant improvement, obviously in their personal life and in their family life, and in their ability to raise their children. This evolves and the investment will come full circle; I think this will have a lasting effect for the future.”
Jennifer then shared with us inspiring reflections on students who find their niche and shed a positive light on a challenging area of long-term care.
“We have a lot of mature students who come to us for training. Often their children are grown, and they can now decide to go back to school, but sometimes they’re not sure about what they want to do specifically in the field. One area we study is palliative, or end-of-life, care. I had a couple of women who were a little bit apprehensive at first when we started learning about palliative care, because most of our experiences, unfortunately, are sad. We have to come to terms with the fact that the patients or clients we work with and come to know, will pass away.
“Fortunately, we’ve had students who’ve actually excelled in this area of long-term care. I’m grateful to even have had some of them write to me, sharing their appreciation for the instructors, telling us how much they are loving what they do. It’s so great when someone finds their niche, where they can master their skills and enjoy their daily work.
“This is very rewarding because we try and teach that it might be the end of a life cycle, but there’s still quality care that should be given at every stage. So, we don’t just talk about offering quality of care to those who are living, but also to those who are dying. Graduates who end of working in this area and find their calling, somehow puts that sadness in a positive light.”
Next, we talked about employment and the job market for PSW graduates.
“Over the last, I would say, six months, we’ve certainly had a lot of students get hired on at their placement site. I know that to Mountain Hope, long-term care facility, alone we sent out 20 students and they ended up hiring six from one class and six from another. So, out of 40 students, 12 were hired and that’s a great number there. A lot of times our students are very successful. I’m still getting references for students that are taking on a second job or moving from one place to another. Most of our PSW students are hired in long-term care. So that’s where we’re generally seeing the most successful hires, within London anyway.”
Jennifer had this advice for future PSW students.
“I think the one key factor is that it is a rewarding job. It is a heavy physical job, but if you enjoy looking after other people and want to give back or put somebody else ahead of you, then, PSW is definitely the way to go. I’m a nurse, I’ve been a nurse for 27 years and I love watching the students, the light bulbs go off, and they understand. What they say to me after they come back from placement is, “You know, you told me that this would happen and it did and you know, and I’m so happy about it”.
“I think if there’s something that’s drawn you towards the healthcare field, and you feel inspired to care for others, I would definitely recommend working as a PSW. It is the way to go for sure. I’m a little bit biased, of course, because I’m teaching it, but I think that PSWs make a big difference in people’s lives.
“Right now, two of the placement sites in London are brand new. They take care of almost 200 clients, in each area. I also know that there’s one in Strathroy that they’re building with about 32 units. This is going to continue to grow, and the demand is just going to continue to grow. The nice thing with PSW is that the training is getting better and better. And students don’t just have to work in long-term care. We’re seeing students getting hired in hospitals, out in the community, and lots of different areas. Honestly, the sky’s the limit!”
In parting, Jennifer had this to say …
“I really appreciate that we got to share our story, celebrating these 60 students who all successfully completed the PSW program and are testing their skills at their placement sites. This was a really big accomplishment, one that our team is quite proud of. Coming together as a team and our efforts having led to this kind of student success, it’s why we do what we do. Thank you very much for asking me to share.”
Are you still determining how to align your interests with a future career? Take the “Anderson College Career Training Readiness Quiz”.
Or, if after hearing Jennifer’s inspiring account, you’re ready to contribute to the need within the healthcare industry, and launch your in-demand PSW career, we’re here to help. Check out the details of Anderson College’s Personal Support Worker program or any one of our other 30+ programs, and then book a virtual appointment to speak with an Admissions Advisor.