by Heidi Riley
After working for many years in the restaurant industry and then on construction installation projects, Matt Perry decided to make a career change.
“When I found myself unemployed, I thought it was a good time to go back to school and gain a career in the healthcare industry. I decided to become a Resident Care Worker (RCW) because I always wanted to be in a career that helps people.”
Last September, Matt enrolled in the RCW program offered by Marguerite Connolly Training & Consulting in Charlottetown. “I had spoken to the school 10 years prior when I had first thought about an RCW career, and now it was the right time.”
After talking with Director of Training Katherine McQuaid and RCWs who had taken that program, he decided it was the best choice for him. “It has smaller class sizes, more one-on-one time with the instructors, and everyone I know who took the program is now working as an RCW, enjoys the job, and has great things to say about the school,” says Matt.
“The program is intense, there is a lot to learn, and the time goes by fast. I liked the amount of clinical on-the-job training in a real facility offered by the program. The instructors in the classroom setting really prepared us students for the work. Once we got to clinical practice, we were ready to take care of residents and patients.”
Matt graduated from the RCW program on June 1, 2022. Before he graduated, he was offered casual employment at Hillsborough Hospital in Charlottetown. “Within a month, I was offered a temporary 60 percent position, and now I have a 70 percent permanent position. I have been working more than full-time hours since I started.”
Matt is happy to be in a permanent position just four months after graduating. “The vacancies and the need in all levels of nursing right now are really high,” he says. “RCWs in all areas of healthcare are in demand, including long-term care homes, hospitals, and mental health and addictions facilities.”
Matt finds great satisfaction in his role in Mental Health and Addictions. “I am happy to be helping people who are having difficulty in their lives. I feel very fulfilled at the end of each shift. Of all the patients I helped care for that day, I may have made a difference and helped them along in their recovery.
“I had the same feeling doing clinical work in a seniors home. There can be sad days, but it is very rewarding, and it’s an honour to be there with someone at that point in their life.”
Being a male RCW
“Before I decided on this career, I did a summer placement at a long-term care facility,” says Matt. “I noticed that a lot more men are becoming RCWs and LPNs and RNs than ever before.
“The role is still dominated by women, but I think all genders have a role to play in all levels of nursing.”
Duties on the job
RCWs help residents with the activities of daily living, such as getting out of bed, dressing, bathing, transferring to wheelchairs, mealtimes, and leisure activities.
RCWs working with Health PEI start at $23.82 per hour. Casuals, because they do not receive benefits, earn 12 percent more than that. Other private employers have their own pay scales.
Financial help with tuition
Through the Resident Care Worker Support program, SkillsPEI will pay 100 percent of tuition costs for individuals taking a Resident Care Worker program in the 2022/2023 school year.
Applications received by SkillsPEI will be assessed against additional program criteria to determine eligibility. Individuals may also be eligible to receive additional financial supports while participating in training.
Through the Resident Care Worker Support Program announced last spring, the province will train 125 new Resident Care Workers this year, all of whom would receive free tuition.
The Department of Workforce, Advance Learning and Population, through SkillsPEI, teamed up with the Department of Health and Wellness to cover tuition costs for any Islander pursuing RCW training at Holland College, College de l’Ile or Marguerite Connolly Training Institute.
For more information about this opportunity, visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/rcw.
Call SkillsPEI at 1-877-491-4766 or visit a SkillsPEI office.
Encouraging retention of RCWs
The Retention Incentive Program, announced October 17, will provide financial incentives to help stabilize the healthcare workforce and retain nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, paramedics, and resident care workers in exchange for a one-year return in service agreement.
Retention incentives will include $2,500 for resident care workers, home support workers and patient care workers.
Incentives will be made eligible for healthcare professionals offering a one-year return in service agreement. Incentives are not specific to any facility or unit and both full and part-time staff are eligible.
A Retirement Retention Program will also be launched providing a $5,000 incentive program to retain those who are eligible to retire in exchange for a one-year return in service in key roles within the health system.
In addition, a Priority Vacancy Program will also be implemented providing a further $3,000 financial incentive aimed at filling key vacant positions throughout the system. Individuals can access these incentives in addition to the retention incentives for a one-year return-in-service. It is anticipated that 190 positions within the system will be eligible for the priority vacancy incentive program.
The Retention Incentive Program will be retroactive to September 2022.
For more information, click here
FOR MORE INFORMATION
on RCW programs across the Island:
Marguerite Connolly Training and Consulting is a 36-week program offered in Charlottetown and Summerside.
For more information, call Katherine McQuaid at 902-566-9705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Holland College offers a one-year program at the West Prince Campus and the Prince of Wales campus in Charlottetown.
Collège de l’Île offers a one-year program (taught in French) in Charlottetown and Wellington For more information, call 1-877-854-3010 or email email@example.com