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New Health Career Access Program students stepping up for residents at Acropolis Manor long-term care home


a group of health care professionals stand in a line to pose for a picture. they are wearing dark coloured scrubs and masks
L-R: New Health Career Access Program students Judith Foster, Stephanie Danes, Miranda Young, Christianne Toms, Lakeisha Bolton, Danielle Richards, Erica Martin, Brenda Hill, Amber Sampare, and Kenji Eda. Missing from photo: Samantha Wier and Kayla Helin.

The Health Career Access Program (HCAP) is an excellent example of an innovative strategy to address recruitment challenges in the long-term care sector.

The program gives people the opportunity to receive paid education and on-the-job training to become registered health care assistants. Their course fees are covered, and they’re also paid for their time while they study and work.

The program consists of employment, education, and training, and takes up to 18 months to finish. After finishing the program, graduates must agree to work as health care assistants for at least one year at the primary worksite where they completed the program. This is called “return of service.”

To date, Prince Rupert Acropolis Manor has 11 HCAP students who were initially hired as health care support workers. The first four will have completed the program by February 2022, and will then begin their one-year return of service at Acropolis Manor as health care aides.

“What has impressed me the most is the connection the students have made with our residents,” says Marcie Garinger, Manager, Acropolis Manor. “They’ve also been a big support to our activity program, which has had staffing challenges. It’s not uncommon to see them doing a social activity such as sitting with residents to do puzzles, playing crib or cards, or singing. They are extra hands that have really made a difference here.”

This past September, some of the HCAP students who are also from the Gitxaala (Kitkatla) Tsimshian First Nations played an integral part in organizing the celebration at the Manor for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The festivities included fresh bannock, drumming, and singing.

“I enjoy the activities and seeing how happy and engaged residents become,” says Brenda Hill, HCAP student. “We have made a couple of our traditional foods, including Indian tea and fried bread (fried bread is called eets'm anaay in the Sm'algyax language). A few of the other students have even taken turns helping me make it, to learn the full process.”

The HCAP students also helped residents enjoy a festive Christmas by helping decorate the building while students Emily Jackson and Brenda Hill prepared fresh bannock, which was a big hit.

“This really adds to a homelike setting for our residents and puts in practice the DementiAbility philosophy that Northern Health long-term care homes value and work towards,” says Marcie. “These types of tasks take planning and time to do and we’ve definitely noticed and appreciated their efforts during our Christmas season.”

The HCAP program overall has been very successful and continues to recruit applicants into the health care sector. It has also had a tremendous impact on the students as well.

“I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to establish these relationships with these residents first,” says Erica Martin, HCAP Student. “It has been such an amazing experience, especially bringing in some more First Nations culture to Acropolis. The way some of their faces light up when we bring around fried bread for them makes me so happy.”