Cypress Health satisfied with high-school student program

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
Lyle Quintin, the new chairperson of the Cypress Regional Health Authority board, chaired his first board meeting on Oct. 14. The Swift Current resident has been a board member since 2009. The Minister of Health has appointed Pam Busby of Leader as the new vice chairperson of the board.

There has been a good response to an initiative by the Cypress Health Region to recruit high-school students to work as care assistants in long-term care facilities.

Cypress Health CEO Beth Vachon spoke about continuing care assistant (CCA) recruitment efforts at the Cypress Regional Health Authority meeting on Oct. 14.
The health region launched the High School Student Care Assistant (HSSCA) program in May. There were 50 applicants and 21 students were hired.
“The expectation of our high-school students is that they do exactly the same work that the CCAs that we hire as adults do,” she said.
The students have to be at least 16 years old. The program provides them an opportunity to gain work experience within health care.
“We’re very mindful that their employment can’t interfere with their school work,” she said. “Through summer holidays it’s great. They can work full-time and that’s some good money that they make while they’re working. When school starts, it’s things like utilizing them for four-hour shifts potentially in evenings, it might be weekends, school holidays.”
The health region has created a mentorship program for the high-school students to assist them to become familiar with their work environments.
“It buddies them up with an experienced CCA and allows them to have someone they can ask questions,” she said. “The mentor can check in and make sure things are going OK.”
A survey was conducted to receive feedback from the students about their experience with the program.
“We had a good response — 72 or 76 per cent responded within two days,” she said. “What we’re hearing from them is that they felt welcomed into the facilities, that they feel that they’re making a difference, that they’re actually providing great care to our residents.”
The 21 students who started the program have been retained and they have been able to fill 47 shifts during the month after school started within long-term care facilities throughout the health region.
“Those 47 shifts would have been either staff working short or paid overtime rates and then that means we’re bringing our staff in on their days off to fill a shift,” she said. “So we’re really proud of the fact that we’re the first region in the province to undertake something different.”
Program to reduce wait times for mental health services
The Cypress Health Region has started a three-month program to reduce wait times for mental health programs. The initiative started Oct. 1 and will carry on until Dec. 31.
“Within the three months what we want to accomplish is that we’ll have an integrated intake system,” Vachon said.
The health region has a number of mental health and addiction services, including an adult program, a child and youth program, an addictions program as well as a rehabilitation program for people with long-term chronic mental illness.
“So within those five programs each of those teams would assign people to do intake every day of the week,” Vachon explained. “It takes a lot of resources when you’ve got someone from each program doing that. So when we’re talking about integrating our intake system, what will happen is that we’ve reallocated resources and we’ll have two full-time people who do nothing but intake. They will handle intake for all of the programs.”
The integration of the intake system will provide clinicians with more time to see patients and wait times will therefore be reduced.
“Our clinicians will have a day a week that they’re not doing intake any longer, which will start to impact our waitlist,” she said. “If they have the ability to see more clients, it reduces the time that people are waiting for their initial appointment to get in and begin their service.”
A key part of any improvement initiative is ongoing monitoring. There will be audits at regular intervals after the three-month period to ensure that goals are achieved.
Purposeful rounding initiative in long-term care
The Cypress Health Region will have a planned intervention initiative at four long-term care facilities from January to March 2016 to implement purposeful rounding.
Staff are already doing regular rounds in all the long-term care facilities in the health region, but this initiative will have an added focus.
“Purposeful rounding is timed and planned intervention of health care providers in order to just be able to address some of those common things that people need on an ongoing, regular basis,” she said.
Staff will therefore visit long-term care residents at frequent intervals, which will provide them with additional assurance. Staff will check on things such as pain management, that everything is within reach of residents to avoid falls and if people need to go to the washroom.
“People often don’t want to use their call bells,” she said. “They don’t want to be a bother. So when you actually start to create this purposeful rounding it gives our residents that security to know somebody is going to come and they’re going to check all these things with them.”
Purposeful rounding is a provincial program that has been adopted by all health regions in Saskatchewan. The Cypress Health Region will have a week-long rapid process improvement workshop at the long-term care facility in Herbert to launch and roll out this initiative.
“It allows us five days with our team of staff from that facility and from some of the other facilities where we will roll this out to,” she said. “They actually start to do the work that’s going to support this that we can replicate throughout the region.”
The initial three-month implementation will take place at the long-term care facilities in Herbert, Eastend, Gull Lake and Maple Creek. At the start of the new fiscal year in April the rollout will continue at all the other long-term care facilities.

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post

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