Innovative healthcare training program at Waterford Retirement Community

By Angela Lackey

In partnership with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, this program aims to tackle healthcare worker shortage and equip newcomers and citizens with vital skills.

Under Executive Director Joe Price’s leadership, the Waterford Retirement Community in Ottawa has launched a healthcare training program in partnership with the Catholic School Board of Eastern Ontario.

This initiative, aimed at addressing the chronic shortage of healthcare workers, especially Personal Support Workers (PSWs), has been tailored to create a sustainable workforce pipeline while providing free training and employment opportunities to citizens new to healthcare and newcomers to Canada.

Joe Price, who has been at the helm of Waterford for about a year, explained the dire situation that preceded the pandemic and how it worsened after that.

“Prior to COVID-19, keeping and retaining healthcare staff like PSWs and nurses was always a challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic made the situation even worse,” Price stated.

He detailed the challenges of limited staff due to restrictions on working in multiple buildings and the overall decline in the workforce.

The Waterford Retirement Community’s response to this crisis was innovative: setting up a healthcare aide or PSW school on-site. Price said their partnership with the Catholic School Board of Eastern Ontario focuses on practical, in-classroom training, with students doing their placement at Waterford.

The program is particularly targeted towards newcomers to Canada and people looking for a career path in healthcare.

“Their schooling is completely paid for by Waterford and the Catholic School Board,” Price mentioned. This initiative also covers additional costs like transportation, books, and scrubs.

The program’s structure is rigorous and comprehensive, ensuring students receive the best possible training in all aspects of healthcare assistance, from personal protective equipment usage to specialized training like PAC training (Positive Approach to Care), which is unique to Waterford.

This holistic approach to training, combined with hands-on experience, prepares students for immediate integration into the healthcare workforce upon graduation.

The program is a beacon of hope for aspiring healthcare workers and the residents of Waterford, who stand to benefit from a higher level of care and a stable workforce.

“We believe that if we treat them properly and onboard them the right way, they will be motivated to stay with us,” Price affirmed.

As for the future, the Waterford Retirement Community and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario plan to continue this collaboration, with at least two classes per year, each training a minimum of 40 students. This innovative program is a testament to Waterford’s commitment to addressing the healthcare workforce shortage while providing quality care to its residents.

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