Throughout the year, there has been a miraculous change in the Kensington community, and especially within our long-term care home, Kensington Gardens. With a high vaccination rate across the campus, zero outbreaks this summer, and with fewer visiting restrictions, The Gardens can return to some normalcy while continuing to provide compassionate care to residents who call The Gardens their home.
It is thanks to numerous staff members who have gone beyond to protect our most vulnerable community. The Gardens is filled with many diverse healthcare professionals who play various roles and have different responsibilities that actively make a difference in the lives of the residents in their care.
Dedicated to education
Throughout this pandemic, The Gardens has been dedicated to hiring, training and offering students the unique chance to have a placement at The Gardens.
Last year, In the midst of the pandemic, The Gardens accommodated over 50 student Personal Support Worker’s (PSW), giving them an opportunity to work, learn and ensure the highest quality of compassionate care at The Gardens. Compared to previous years, this was the largest number of students ever placed at The Gardens.
Anna Slawski is the Director of Care for The Gardens and oversees and supports the care delivery in the North building. Additionally, Anna monitors, guides, and updates all staff members of any new updates or guidelines to follow.
For Anna, taking in a higher number of students during the pandemic was a unique experience: “We always had an active student placement for many years, but as the pandemic progressed, many long-term care homes stopped accepting students due to the lockdown. There was a large backlog of students waiting to complete their placement,” said Anna. “Last fall, two PSW schools asked us if we were able to accommodate 50 students. Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved.”
Anna observed that by having several staff act as instructors, the students were able to learn quickly and efficiently: “To make sure each student was learning, we assigned one or two staff members to participate as a supervisor so the students would have support and guidance. The students were assigned to a consistent home area so they could improve their skills and gradually learn the responsibilities of a PSW and become independent with their tasks. Students were allowed to attend meetings and access different learning materials virtually and in person.”
With extra hands available around the home, residents were able to receive more help and support: “Having additional students was a great benefit to residents, as students were at The Gardens for approximately six to nine weeks,” said Anna. “Residents had extra staff to listen to their concerns, provide them with social support, assist them with their activities and daily living, or even to have a general conversation.”
“We’ve always been very big on bringing on PSW students so that they can complete their degree requirements.” said James Wickham, Kensington’s Senior Director of Human Resources. “We were able to actively train students during the pandemic so they can pursue their career goals.”
James played a huge role in connecting Kensington with distinct PSW colleges and forming great partnerships. With these strong connections, many students end up applying to work at The Gardens: “We find that a lot of our students do apply for a position here after finishing their placement. This is a huge benefit for us as we can have extra care around The Gardens.”
PSW’s are the backbone of Canada’s health-care system, working on the frontlines everyday to provide loved ones with the one-on-one support that they need. The Gardens was able to provide a successful opportunity for many PSW students who now have a bright future and rewarding career ahead of them.