A little celebration was held at Queen Victoria Hospital last Friday to mark Health Care Assistant Day in B.C. and the start of the new Health Care Aid program in Revelstoke.
The 11 students from all walks of life were at the hospital doing the lab work portion of the program, which will train them to do the work of a health care assistant.
The Revelstoke program was put together through a partnership between Okanagan College, Interior Health and the Revelstoke District Health Foundation.
The idea for having the program was brought up at by the Okanagan College Advisory Committee after it was mentioned that there was a demand for health care assistants in Revelstoke.
“Because we saw a demand locally for getting some qualified assistants, we got together with the college to bring the course to Revelstoke,” said Julie Lowes, the site manager for Queen Victoria Hospital.
The students will be trained for roles such as home support, residential care, assisted living and adult day programs. There is a need for casual health care assistants to replace full-time staff when they are on sick or on vacation, said Lowes. The graduates can apply for permanent positions as they come up.
There are about 50–60 care aids in Revelstoke, said Lowes, including support and casual staff.
“Part of the shift in health care is moving more towards community care to allow people to stay in their homes,” said Lowes.
The Revelstoke District Health Foundation supported the program by granting each student a $1,000 scholarship. $750 was awarded to help with tuition and the remainder will be awarded upon graduation.
“There’s nothing we can do that could help health in Revelstoke more than support this program,” said Margaret Zielonka, with the health foundation.
Jim Barmby, the dean of the Shuswap-Revelstoke region of Okanagan College, thanked the foundation, Interior Health, and the college advisory committee. “We’re absolutely thrilled we could get enough students to bring a full blown program to Revelstoke,” he said.
I spoke to a few students about why they enrolled. Chantelle Cumiskey, 18, a recent Revelstoke Secondary School graduate who works at Cooper’s, said she has wanted to be involved in health care since she was seven. “It’s a good opportunity and rewarding job.”
Jackie James said she was following in her mother’s foot steps. Her mother was a nurse in England but when her family immigrated to Canada, her qualifications weren’t accepted and she became a care aid. “It’s in my nature, it’s inherent,” James said.
For Kayla Dodman, it’s a chance to earn a better living to support her two children. In high school she worked at Moberley Manor and the field still interested her. “I was interested then and it still excites me,” she said. “It is tough but in the end it will be worth it and I can give my children a better life.”