Continuing Care Assistant pilot project deemed a success

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Deb Highsaw of Mankota receives her diploma at Monday’s Cypress Health Region Continuing Care Assistant program graduation.

The Cypress Health Region is calling their Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) program a success after eight of their employees received their diplomas on Monday.

The health region partnered with SIAST to create the program, which trains health region employees for long-term care, home care and acute care environments. The program was created to blunt the expected retirement of a large number of care givers over the next few years.

Linda Wasko-Lacey, who served as one of the course instructors, says there were plenty of obstacles to making the course work, but she’s feels it was worth it, and was glad the health region gave it a shot.

“They came up with trying something different for this group of individuals, because there are things for the medical students, there are things for the registered nurses and nurse practitioners, but there isn’t anything for CCAs,” she said. “I’m just really pleased about that.”

The twice a week course was part of a new pilot project designed to train prospective employees without being hindered by work or travel. Students were able to take advantage of the reduced travel thanks to Telehealth technology available to students in Mankota, Leader and Maple Creek. They also benefited from financial aid and registration reimbursements courtesy of the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation.

“The financial support that was given by both the Foundation and the Cypress Health Region was incredible,” Wasko-Lacey said. “Any little bit helps. With a group of individuals that are working moms and working in rural Saskatchewan, it’s not easy to get an education.”

CCA program graduate Charmaine Moore laughingly pointed out the program got off to a bit of a bumpy start.

“Sometimes it was chaos,” Moore said with a chuckle. “In the beginning when they were working out the kinks we never really knew week to week how it was going to play out or what days we were going to be going to school.”

Ultimately, the program was successful enough to spawn a similar course at Great Plains College. Training is already underway for the second group of students, while applications are being accepted for a third group, who will start in the fall.

For her part, Moore says it’s something people should take advantage of.

“If anyone gets the opportunity, I highly recommend taking the jump.”

Organizations: Great Plains College, Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation, Cypress Health Region

Geographic location: Mankota, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan Swift Current

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