Sask. Polytech signs agreement to offer certificate program in Mistawasis Nêhiyawak

Photo courtesy Saskatchewan Polytechnic

An agreement signed in Mistawasis Nêhiyawak Tuesday will help members of that community earn a continuing care assistant certificate while staying close to home.

The agreement, signed between Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Saskatchewan Polytechnic, means the theoretical classroom portion of the one-year Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) program will be delivered at the Iron Buffalo Centre, located at Mistawasis Nêhiyawak.

Once the theoretical courses are completed, simulation laboratory training will take place at the Prince Albert Sask. Polytech campus before clinical placements are completed in neighbouring communities such as Shellbrook, Canwood, Hafford and Duck Lake.

“The signing of this new agreement .. will help our community by educating our youth on-reserve,” said Mistawasis Nêhiyawak Chief Daryl Watson in a press release.

“Continuing care assistants are needed in our community and this will help keep them on-reserve for the education portion of the program and eventually have them working here at Mistawasis Nêhiyawak.”

The first batch of students to start their training at home in Mistawasis Nêhiyawak is currently working through their clinical placements.

CCAs work with clients in long-term care, home care, assisted living, acute care and special needs classrooms. They assist clients with mobility, personal care, eating meals and medication monitoring. Students learn gerontology, dementia management strategies, long-term are philosophies, promoting independence, nutrition, provision of safe client care and addressing psychosocial needs.

So far, the partnership has been successful.

“It’s a brand new partnership, it’s very exciting,” said Sandra Blevins, dean for the School of Nursing and for the School of Health Sciences.

“We were able to meet with (the students) today and have been hearing great things. It was so good to hear and see their excitement. It’s working.”

Students are completing their clinical practice in home care, long-term care and acute care settings.

“One of the students … spoke about how being close was very important,” Blevins said.

“It allows (students) to not have to bear the cost of moving away from their families, and many of these folks are also caregivers at home, whether it’s their children or other members of their family.”

The teacher who has been travelling to Mistawasis Nêhiyawak is Indigenous, and has been able to form strong connections with the students, Blevins said.

“They’re seeing int heir own home setting, a wonderful role model for them. They were so excited about it.”

Blevins said that there are many reasons the School of Nursing and the School of Health Sciences embraced the opportunity to offer the program at Mistawasis Nêhiyawak.

“One is our program is highly demanded by industry. (Graduates) are employed everywhere in the province, in almost every care setting, and they’re very pivotal to the care,” she said.

“We are very invested in having our learning happening where the students on, so to test this model in an Indigenous community was great. Also, we’re very committed to Indigenous students and working with them to achieve post-secondary education and go on to employment. It’s a win-win all around.”

The Schools of Nursing and Health Sciences delivers programs across the province, she said and would be willing to offer similar programs to the CCA certificate offered in partnership with Mistawasis Nêhiyawak elsewhere.

“Anytime we can look for partners, or identify partners willing to do this, we’re very open to it,” she said.