South West LHIN and seven partners work together to tackle PSW shortages.
Fanshawe College, South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and other partners are working together to address the persistent shortages of personal support workers (PSWs) in communities across southwestern Ontario.
In response to the shortage, the South West LHIN is funding 200 bursaries valued at $1 million for four colleges – Fanshawe, Conestoga, Georgian and Lambton – to help students in financial need cover the costs of taking the Personal Support Worker certificate program.
In addition, three organizations (Victorian Order of Nurses, CarePartners and OneCare) have committed to hiring 165 PSW students and paying for their in-school training and work term placements in Bruce, Elgin, Grey, Huron, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford and Perth county communities within the South West LHIN's geographical boundaries.
"Many changes are coming in our health care system but one thing is certain: high quality professionals are required in support services to make sure we deliver as much care in homes and the community as possible," said Renato Discenza, CEO of the South West LHIN. "This bursary program is an investment in community care and is very important to the goal of patient-centred care. It upgrades community skills and enhances patients' lives."
PSW bursary funding at Fanshawe
Fanshawe has received $500,000 of the LHIN funding and is accepting applications for bursaries to financially eligible incoming PSW students who will begin their full-time studies in January 2020. The College aims to get trained graduates into the local workforce as quickly as possible.
"Fanshawe College is very pleased to collaborate with the South West LHIN to address the workforce development challenges that our communities are facing in this field," says Dr. Susan Cluett, dean of the Faculty of Access, Language and Regional Campuses at Fanshawe College. "Personal Support Workers play such an important role in the health care continuum in our communities, and this exceptional investment will help address critical shortages of PSWs available to provide community care."
The eight-month Personal Support Worker certificate program is offered at each of the College's campuses. The program, which is still accepting applications for its January 2020 intake, is well suited to adult learners seeking short-term preparation to start work quickly in an in-demand career field.
"Fanshawe offers the PSW program at six locations, including London, St. Thomas, Woodstock, Simcoe, Clinton and Kincardine, in various flexible formats to meet students' needs," Dr. Cluett continues. "Employers are eager to hire our graduates, and work closely with us to provide experiential community placement opportunities to prepare students for their future careers."
The South West LHIN's Home Care program alone provides approximately 30,000 PSW visits to over 6,000 patients in seven counties every single week. It is essential that South West communities have enough PSWs to meet the significant demand.
To encourage enrolment for the winter 2020 term, Fanshawe will consider full-time applicants to the PSW program for bursary funding, especially those who apply to the College's regional campuses, where demand is greatest for job-ready graduates.
Ongoing support for PSW training and jobs
In tandem with similar efforts by the South West LHIN and other colleges, Fanshawe has embarked on an extensive advertising and awareness campaign to promote the PSW career path and encourage applications to the PSW program at all campuses. The partners hope to draw attention to PSW shortages and the high demand for skilled graduates in our region, as well as creating goodwill and additional touch points among the many health care partners affected by this issue.
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