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Health Care Assistant program intake starts as demand spikes in Salmon Arm
Okanagan College Media Release

More health-care beds opening up is good news for patients and for those seeking careers in caring.

An intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled for May at the Salmon Arm campus, giving students in the Shuswap direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.

The intake couldn’t come at a better time for operators of Mount Ida Mews in Salmon Arm, which just hosted the grand opening for Phase 2 of its 60-bed expansion project.

"We are very proud to partner with Interior Health to provide quality senior care to the residents of Salmon Arm. The expansion of Mount Ida Mews will create 48 new jobs for nurses, health care assistants and hospitality workers in the community. We look forward to continuing to nurture our partnership with the community of Salmon Arm and thank everyone who was involved in bringing this project to life," says Melanie Reinhardt, President of Vantage Living which operates Mount Ida Mews.

According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecast at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.

“The need for health care assistants within the Interior Health region is growing. There are many employment opportunities for individuals who have this training,” says Interior Health’s Shalan Hundal, Health Care Assistant Recruitment and Marketing Project Lead. “Graduates of the HCA program can join our teams at Interior Health and choose to work in a team environment in long-term care or they can choose to work one-on-one with clients in home support. It is a great career choice for those who like making a positive impact on the lives of others.”

The intensive program runs for 26 weeks (six-months)

starting in May, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.

In addition to being in demand, students can also expect to find a career that’s highly rewarding, notes Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College.

“Health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in their care,” explains Kraft. “This profession also supports individuals and their families, as living wages are provided right out of school and a variety of shifts are offered, making it easy for people to find work that best fits their lives.”

An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Salmon Arm campus, 2552 10th Ave. NE. Students will meet program staff who can discuss the program and outline education financing options, admission requirements and supports for returning students. Information on Work BC funding eligibility will also be available.

Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-832-2126, ext. 8259 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.