ONTARIO NURSES ASSOCIATION. Submission to the PSW Educational Standards Consultation

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1 ONTARIO NURSES ASSOCIATION Submission to the PSW Educational Standards Consultation Health Sector Labour Market Policy Branch Ministry of Health and Long-Term May 15, 2012 ONTARIO NURSES ASSOCIATION 85 Grenville Street, Suite 400 Toronto, ON M5S 3A2 Phone: (416) Fax: (416) Web site:

2 INTRODUCTION The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) is the union representing 59,000 front-line registered nurses (RNs) and allied health professionals and more than 13,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics. We welcome the opportunity to provide our frontline perspective to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care consultation on PSW Educational Standards. We have organized our recommendations according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care consultation questions. In addition, we have provided our views on grandparenting as an essential consideration in the implementation of educational standards for PSWs in Ontario. ONA RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE CONSULTATION QUESTIONS 1. Are there any reasons why these three standards should not be adopted as currently written or with some modification as the core eligibility requirements for Ontario s PSW Registry? ONA believes that there should be only one educational standard moving forward. ONA supports adopting the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities PSW vocational standard (provided by Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology) as the educational standard for PSWs. Any future provider of PSW education must adhere to that standard curriculum and be fully accredited to deliver that education. 2. What are the key challenges or opportunities in implementing these educational standards as a requirement for PSWs? Key challenges include: Development of a common definition of PSW. Development of a curriculum that addresses the needs of the clients served by the care provided by PSWs, e.g., both institutional setting and home care, including clients with responsive behaviours. ONA Submission to PSW Educational Standards Consultation/May 15,

3 Education must be consistent and graduates of the program capable of delivering a core skill set. The education must be affordable. These are not highly paid workers and they cannot graduate with excessive debt. There must be access to education across the province to meet the labour market demands. 3. Are there other issues we should consider when developing educational standards for PSWs? ONA believes that it is not possible to discuss education for future entrants without discussing grandparenting and credentialing for existing PSWs. Grandparenting is important to ONA because it recognizes that returning to school for most PSWs will mean a considerable amount of personal debt and as a low paid healthcare provider, this creates a considerable financial burden. As a result, it may not be possible for many personal support workers to pursue educational requirements. There needs to be public funding provided to personal support workers who want to pursue the educational requirements to mitigate these costs, e.g., through a Federal EI grant. To promote standardized education moving forward, we encourage that the programs that are established be available on a part-time basis and that bridging programs are created to facilitate currently employed personal support workers to achieve formal education. These programs must be accessible throughout the province and must be affordable. Current PSWs should be provided with an opportunity to write a challenge exam (similar to the GED process for high school equivalency) to prevent a labour market shortage of PSWs and to recognize the contributions these valuable workers have made to the health care system. Who should be Grandparented A person who was working or employed at a long-term care home, in home care or in a hospital at any time in the 10 year period preceding the June 1, 2012 launch date of the PSW Registry as a personal support worker. ONA Submission to PSW Educational Standards Consultation/May 15,

4 A student, who is enrolled in an educational program for registered nurses or registered practical nurses and who has adequate skills and knowledge to perform the duties of a personal support worker (note: this currently does happen). A person who has completed a comparable provincial program or is internationally trained and the training meets the Registry s draft generic job description of a personal support worker or who is provided with an opportunity to write a challenge exam. A person who was working or employed at a long-term care home, in home care or in a hospital, out-of-province or internationally, at any time in the 10 year period preceding June 1, 2012 as a personal support worker (i.e., Ontario must meet the Pan-Canada Educational requirements) or who is provided with an opportunity to write a challenge exam. If the personal support worker completed a comparable provincial program or is internationally trained and the training meets the generic job description of a personal support worker, the Registry staff will at the Registry s expense perform a prior learning assessment to determine if the personal support worker is eligible for registration. If it is determined that the personal support worker is not eligible to register, the worker will have access to a third party appeals process. If the personal support worker has on-the-job training, in Ontario, out-of-province or internationally, the person will provide a written record of employment from their previous employer on a standardized Registry form. If the person is unable to obtain a written record of employment, pay-stubs from the period of employment or tax records that demonstrate job classification may suffice. If it is determined that the documentation does not adequately verify previous employment, the worker will have access to a third party appeals process. If the personal support worker successfully completes a challenge test or prior learning assessment based on their current skills, abilities and knowledge and if they demonstrate that they meet the current educational standards, they should qualify for grandparenting. Grandparenting should last for the career of the PSW provided they stay active in the field and on the Registry. If grandparenting does not last forever, then a minimum of ten years is necessary to ensure part-time programs and equivalency testing is available or, alternatively, for the worker to develop a career plan. ONA Submission to PSW Educational Standards Consultation/May 15,

5 CONCLUSION We sincerely request that our recommendations be given serious consideration by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, including our recommendations related to grandparenting, so that PSWs currently employed are not disadvantaged and clients continue to receive the quality personal support they expect and deserve. ONA Submission to PSW Educational Standards Consultation/May 15,

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