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Training program will assist Cypress Health officials to staff new long-term care facility

Posted on December 29, 2015 by Maple Creek

By Matthew Liebenberg — mliebenberg@prairiepost.com
A new full-time training program for continuing care assistants (CCA) at Great Plains College in Swift Current is part of a recruitment initiative by Cypress Health Region to staff the new 225-bed long-term care facility in the city.
The Cypress Health Region and Great Plains College signed the formal partnership agreement for the CCA program at an event at the Palliser Regional Care Centre in Swift Current Dec. 8.
“We have lots of great partnerships with the college,” Cypress Health CEO Beth Vachon said. “So, I think this is just another example where we have the ability to be very creative to determine what the needs are, what’s the best way to train a large number of people as quickly as possible.”
The construction of the new long-term care facility is currently taking place on a 15-acre site next to the Cypress Regional Hospital and there will be a need for additional health-care providers.
“We’re adding an additional 27 long-term care beds; we’re expanding our adult day program and we’re increasing the way that we’ll do palliative care as well,” she said.
The health region will need about 110 CCAs to work in the new facility on a full-time, part-time and casual basis.
“It’s a large number, but they would not all be full-time positions,” she said. “It would be a combination because of the way we schedule staff over 24 hours. We do need the ability to have some part-time staff to fill in as well as that good casual pool that can provide relief.”
The Great Plains College is already delivering part-time CCA programs through an arrangement with Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
“Any staff members that we hire as an untrained care aide have two years to complete the program, but with the number of people that we need to bring on in order to have the right staffing complement when we open our doors, we knew that we needed to try to do something a little bit different,” she said.
The new full-time CCA program will therefore take place between March 2016 and July 2016 to provide students with their theoretical training. They will then gain their practical experience when they start working in the new long-term care facility.
“This will meet all of the theory requirements that is within the course and then the practical experience can be gained while on the job,” she said. “We think this is a really creative solution and certainly now offers another option for our staff as they can enter now into a full-time program, a part-time program or an online program.”
Great Plains College President and CEO David Keast said the institution values this partnership with the Cypress Health Region.
“It brings together the expertise and the resources of both institutions to work in one common way and to address labour market needs,” he mentioned.
He noted this kind of approach is a benefit to different industries as well as to communities.
“This kind of synergy for colleges is basically the lifeblood of much of what we do and very, very central to our mandate,” he said. “We’re going to move forward in the community, in the province, on labour market demand through partnerships and programming.”
There will be space for 24 students in the initial program that starts in March 2016 and all available seats are reserved for Cypress Health Region staff.
“The college has in the past developed customized training for different sectors of the economy,” he said. “This would be the first I think for Cypress Health of this nature.”
In this case, the two parties were able to develop the new full-time program on a tight schedule.
“It was a bit of a challenge, the time frame is tight, there’s no question about that, but the resources of both institutions were brought to bear on it,” he said. “We put our heads together and we came up with a model that we think is going to work for an early March start date.”
The announcement included a presentation by Ashley Giesbrecht, a CCA at the Palliser Regional Care Centre and a recent graduate of the CCA program at the college. She took the program part-time over a two-year period while working for the health region.
“The program is really flexible and you gain experience while working,” she said. “You’re enhancing your education that much more by working on the floor and actually experiencing the things that you’re learning — so, it’s super flexible. The professors or teachers are really great and have that experience to help you.”
A CCA provides day-to-day care for residents to fulfil their physical and emotional needs. Tasks can vary from assisting with personal care to helping with walking programs.
“The job is so diverse,” she said. “You’re the residents’ friend, you support, you play a big role.”
Applications are already accepted for the new CCA training program that starts in March. Successful candidates must be hired by the health region and registered for the program by Feb. 12.
For more information about the CCA recruitment initiative, visit the Cypress Health Region’s website at https://cypresshealth.ca (see information under careers section), phone 306-741-1885, text 306-988-1747 or send an email to careers@cypressrha.ca.

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