The importance of continuing care assistants (CCAs) cannot be emphasized enough with a growing number of people in the province relying on continuing care.
Jill Provost, a CCA at Grand View Manor in Berwick and alumnus of the NSCC’s continuing care program, is both proud and excited to see the provincial and federal governments providing support for people who want to do what she does for living, in a field wherein there is significant demand for employees.
Funding support, announced July 29 in Kentville, has come in the form of a $460,000 bursary program for several NSCC campuses in Nova Scotia.
“It’s one of the most amazing things to see that they’re putting money where money needs to be,” Provost told Kings County News in an interview shortly after the funding announcement at NSCC Kingstec. “We don’t have a lack of seniors, and people don’t stop growing old.”
“Seeing them put money into having more and more people look after seniors and the elderly, so they can get the care they need, is amazing.”
The funding will subsidize 115 bursaries. Of those, NSCC will award 95 of them at campuses across the province. The remaining 20 will be available at Université Sainte-Anne, another institution that has a specialized continuing care program.
Students enrolled at several NSCC locations across the province and Université Sainte-Anne can look forward to a $4,000 bursary if they qualify.
To guests, Provost expressed her excitement in seeing two levels of government heeding the recommendations of an expert advisory panel on long-term care to support workforce staffing and recruitment, and reintroducing the program.
Specifically, bursaries will be available to students studying continuing care at the Kentville, Middleton, Amherst and Port Hawkesbury NSCC campuses.
Provost said the bursary will be a tremendous boon to those who may be interested in studying to become a CCA but may not have the financial means to do so. This, in turn, will help boost recruitment into the program and, eventually, the field.
“It’s super meaningful to me because someone special in my life showed me that we all need someone in our corner,” Provost said. “As a CCA, we can be that person in someone’s corner, to be there for them when everyone else is too busy and maybe even when their family members can’t always be there.”
Randy Delorey, provincial Minister of Health and Wellness, stressed the importance of CCAs, and noted the daily help they provide the province’s aging population in their own homes.
“These workers are in demand across the province, and we’ve been seeing an increase in demand in both the long-term care sector, as well as the home-care sector,” Delorey said. “We’ve been investing to meet that demand, but that demand won’t be met without the people providing that support.”
In order to help meet that demand, Delorey said it’s important to fill seats in CCA programs.
“There are a number of empty seats in these sites and we want to change that,” he said referring to the CCA program at Kingstec.
“If we can fill those seats, we’ll have more graduates and, if we have more graduates, we’ll have more people available to fill those vacancies in the long-term and home-care sectors.”
The funding for the initiative is from the Canada-Nova Scotia Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions Services Funding Agreement. Applications for bursaries close Sept. 13 for NSCC.
VOICES OF CONCERN
CUPE Nova Scotia president Nan McFadgen said in light of the province-wide need for continuing care assistants, she is pleased – albeit cautiously.
“This is, in fact, the government that cancelled the bursary in the first place. We know the good work the bursary can do, but we also know the bursary is really just going to be around for just one year,” McFadgen said. “This is wonderful, and a good start.”
Although she’s happy with the funding for the bursaries, Louise Riley, chairperson for the CUPE long-term care committee, said it is a long-term response to a problem that also needs a short-term solution.
“Nursing homes right now are working very short. There’s nobody to fill positions. It’s still going to take a year before these people are ready to work in nursing homes,” Riley said.
“There’s no time limit on this. You can tell it’s only going to be good for one year. What happens the year after? And the year after that? We’re going to need the same amount of money to keep the bursary going.”