Health Human Resources Insight: Building Up Our Canadian Workforce

Last week, we discussed ideas and solutions that involved bringing talented newcomers to Canada to help alleviate the HHR crisis hitting long-term care. Today, we’re looking within our borders and exploring how we can bolster efforts domestically to recruit staff into much-needed roles in long-term care homes across the country.

Around the globe, Canadians are known for their compassion, kindness and generosity while we must unlock pathways for newcomers, there are undoubtedly Canadians out there right now who would be ideally suited for work in long-term care. However, recruitment of skilled and knowledgeable staff is hampered by several obstacles, including the reputation of long-term care.

Building back this trust with the general public is essential for attracting talent. We certainly believe this is possible. Every day, there are positive stories that highlight the importance of the connections made in long-term care. The person-to-person interactions between staff members and residents have profound impacts on the quality of care.

Long-term care homes are fundamentally places of care and compassion — in a way, they are quintessentially Canadian. This is a story we should tell more often. As we encourage domestic workers to consider careers in long-term care, we have to ensure they can picture themselves fitting in. There are a number of ways to do this but an easy first step is targeted outreach, extoling the values of working in our sector.

Some of this outreach should be reaching out to students that may not always gravitate to caring careers in long-term care. For example, we must work to figure out how we bring more men into the nursing field in our homes. When we look at the demographics of workers in long-term care, it skews predominantly towards those who identify as women; it’s time we tried to balance this out more.

You can’t encourage people into these careers, however, if the educational spaces and programming does not exist. A dedicated and creative long-term plan is needed to ensure the supply of new staff matches the increasing demand.

CALTC wants to see the federal government, provincial governments, colleges, universities, regulatory bodies and health care organizations all come together to make this happen. Start by developing and funding nurses, PSWs and care professional degree, diploma and certificate programs.

Building on creating new educational spaces, there should also be a priority for “on the job” training. This would allow students to receive academic credit, gain practical experience and also have the benefit of bolstering the workforce in long-term care homes.

In addition to the practical training, educational institutions should also broaden the breadth of their programs by including a better of base of training in geriatrics across nursing programs. We know that the population of Canada continues to age, not accounting for this as we train the next generation of health care workers would not adequately equip them for success.

The HHR crisis will not subside overnight; it will require a concerted effort from governments and organizations throughout the country building long-term strategies to ensure our workforce is built up appropriately.

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