Successful campaign now launched in the north to attract new students to elder care

    PRINCE GEORGE, BC, July 21 /CNW/ - Provincial government ministries,
private and public health organizations and educators from across BC are
working to boost enrolment in post-secondary courses that train residential
care aides and home support workers.
    The ministries of Health Services and Advanced Education and Labour
Market Development, Vancouver Island Health, Fraser Health, 20 public and
private institutions along with the membership of the BC Care Providers
Association have collectively launched a $160,000 marketing and awareness
campaign to attract new students to the continuing care sector.
    "We've expanded training programs for home support and residential care
aides so caring people who want to enter this field will be able to qualify
for stable, meaningful jobs," said Murray Coell, Minister of Advanced
Education and Labour Market Development. "We've also introduced a loan
forgiveness program for these students that can offset their education costs
by as much as $2,500."
    "More health care workers trained to provide home support and residential
care will help meet the needs of the province's growing seniors' population,"
said Health Services Minister George Abbott. "The BC CARES campaign supports
our commitment to complete construction for 5,000 net new beds and units for
seniors by the end of 2008."
    Health organizations across Canada are facing similar critical shortages
for residential care and home health workers. In BC, more than 1,500 qualified
graduates are needed immediately to staff new and existing long term care and
assisted living beds as well as home care clients.
    "Government, health authorities and educators are doing the right thing,"
said Christine Nidd, Board President with the BC Care Providers Association,
which is leading the project. "This campaign shows that the private and public
health care sector can work together very well and respond quickly to address
a serious need."
    The need, in fact, shows no sign of diminishing even after the Province
completes construction of the 5,000 new beds. Nidd, who is also the Provincial
Director of Revera Long Term Care, said the BC CARES campaign has proven to
generate effective results, filling all public seats during last year's pilot
with Fraser Health. "Seniors 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of
BC's population. We are preparing for a 'silver tsunami,' which means our
staffing needs will only increase year after year."
    Craig Hebert, Dean of Development and Access Training with Northern
Lights College in Dawson Creek, agrees. "We need to get the message out there
that there has never been a better time to start your career in health care.
Graduates of these programs study for about one year, sometimes less, will
have their pick of jobs in a number of service environments and can advance
relatively quickly to the nursing profession."
    Pat Covington, Dean of Health Sciences and Social Services at College of
New Caledonia in Prince George, said, "We work closely with employers to help
place our graduates. There's no doubt that finding good qualified people to
fill these care positions is one of their biggest challenges."
    The BC CARES enrolment strategy launched this week features radio and
newspaper advertising, brochure distribution, promotions at job fairs and
access to a comprehensive website. Further information is available online at
    Training courses for residential care aides and community health workers
are offered at both public and private colleges in BC. Graduates are paid
between about $17 and $21 an hour.
    Participating colleges in the Interior region include:

        College of New Caledonia
        Northern Lights College
        Northwest Community College
        Sprott Shaw Community College

For further information:

For further information: Kate Hildebrandt, Director of PR + Member
Services, BC Care Providers Association, (604) 736-4233 ext. 228, (778)
848-4404 (cell)

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