Okanagan College receives caregiver funding

Campuses in Vernon, Salmon Arm, Oliver slated to receive funding to provide additional seats

Okanagan College campuses across the Valley are slated to benefit from government action.

Whether seniors live in residential care, assisted living or their own homes, government is taking action to ensure care will be there for them when and where they need it.

The Ministries of Health and Advanced Education, Skills and Training are providing $89,000 for 12 additional seats to the college’s Oliver campus, $66,000 to the Salmon Arm campus for 20 seats and $66,000 to the Vernon campus for 20 seats.

“Health-care assistants play a valuable role in the public health system, offering day-to-day personal-care support to seniors and people with disabilities,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Investing in health-care sector education programs means people are getting trained for in-demand jobs, and adequately staffing our health-care system means people get the care they need for generations to come.”

The ministries are providing $3.3 million to create new health-care assistant seats in 11 post-secondary institutions throughout British Columbia. This is one part of a larger human resource strategy to increase staffing levels in residential care facilities and community care sectors.

There are currently an estimated 28,000 health-care assistants employed by health authorities and affiliated employers in B.C. Health-care assistants provide personal support services for seniors, people with a disability and people with acute or chronic illnesses. They work in a variety of settings including home support, assisted living and residential care facilities.

“Expanding the number of health-care assistant seats helps to make sure our families and loved ones get the care they need where they need it — close to home,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Health-care assistants are in demand throughout the province, and expanding the number of seats gives people the opportunity to enter into a rewarding career that will help their families and communities thrive.”

There are 17 publicly funded post-secondary institutions throughout B.C. that offer health-care assistant training. Training programs are approximately six to 10 months long. This new funding will make the new seats available by December 2019. This will help achieve the recommended 3.36 hours per resident day average in residential care facilities, and strengthen the level of care people receive at home, in assisted living facilities and residential care.

“Health-care assistants have chosen a career that makes a difference for the people they care for,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Anne Kang. “Increasing the number of health-care assistant seats in B.C. is an important step to ensure that caregivers are there for British Columbians when they need support with personal care.”

“More care aides, community health workers and other health-care assistants are needed on the front lines of our health-care system to provide quality care and reduce on-the-job injuries,” said Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the 49,000-member Hospital Employees’ Union. “We’re very pleased that B.C.’s excellent public colleges and institutes will receive additional resources to train more health-care assistants.”

Increasing the number of health-care assistant seats is part of work underway to support a human resources strategy to ensure the health-care workforce meets the needs of patients. As well, government has developed a broader strategy to improve and strengthen services for B.C. seniors. Budget 2018 provides $548 million over the next three years to improve care for seniors, including investments in primary care, home and community care, residential care and assisted living.

Related: New health sciences centre planned for Okanagan College



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