Personal support workers serve on the front lines of health care. They support clients, residents and patients in a variety of settings, assisting those in need with the activities of daily living, providing care and companionship while advocating for those who often cannot advocate for themselves. PSWs make a tremendous difference every day, whether working in home and community care, long-term or residential settings or in hospitals.
The urgent need for additional PSWs across Ontario and throughout Canada was recognized as a looming health care crisis even before the COVID-19 pandemic placed additional demands on a supply of workers already stretched to capacity.
When clinical field placements were cancelled for Conestoga’s PSW students in March in alignment with Ontario’s pandemic response, it appeared that the 80 students who were about to complete their final placement requirements would be delayed in starting their careers at a time that their skills were desperately needed.
Thanks to an innovative solution developed through the college’s School of Health & Life Sciences, students who are working in the field can apply to receive credit towards completing their placement requirements. The completion initiative is based on Conestoga’s Prior Learning and Recognition (PLAR) principles, which can provide credit for skills, knowledge or competencies acquired through employment, education or life experiences that align with learning outcomes.
Jared Caiden Mendoza (photo) is one of the PSW students who chose to complete his placement course requirements through employment in home health care. Mendoza, 32, was recently awarded the Mary Pickles Memorial Award at Conestoga for the “commitment, understanding and passion for quality care” he demonstrated in a previous clinical placement. He always knew that his future would involve helping and caring for people.
“Ever since I could remember, I’ve always wanted to make a difference,” Mendoza said. “The best way for me to do that is by serving people in need, to do good by helping and caring for people.”
Jared has gained a wide range of experience through his placements, working with clients who require assistance with personal care, ambulation, meals and other supports. He’s provided cuing and companionship to clients with Alzheimer’s and helped cancer patients achieve comfort and rest.
“I do everything I can to provide them with the dignity, independence, privacy and safety that they need and deserve,” Mendoza continued.
Jared recently completed the requirements for PSW certification and is now working as a Health Care Aide at Sunnyside Home. He is one of the many Conestoga students, employees and graduates who are making a difference in the fight against COVID-19.