The partnership agreement increases and expands the capacity for health and safety training of continuing care workers.
This is the fifth centre of its type, with others located at the head office in Burnaby and similar partnerships in Abbotsford, Parksville and Nanaimo.
According to SafeCare CEO Jen Lyle, there were over 350 full-time positions that were lost last year across the sector because of workplace injuries, adding that health and safety education is a key part in not only reducing workplace injuries, but also staffing shortages in continuing care.
“In long term care specifically, what we see is safe handling-related injuries, so overexertion for example, somebody hurts their back or their neck or shoulder,” said Lyle, who was in Penticton for the opening ceremonies Thursday. “We also see acts of violence as a rising area of concern too, those are actually the top two ways people get hurt on the job in continuing care.
“You can imagine the impact that has in the continuing care industry when you already have staffing shortages, especially in places like the Interior.”
SafeCare BC is a non-profit organization working to ensure injury-free safe working conditions for the more than 28,000 continuing care workers in the province.
Last year it facilitated training for nearly 3,000 people working in the field.
Since SafeCare began five years ago, she said there has already a significant decrease in the injury rate, from over 9 per cent to 7.8 per cent.
“We still have a ways to go but that’s why we want to invest in more opportunities like this at Haven Hill,” said Lyle, adding the retirement centre’s active pursuit of the agreement was a factor in its selection. “Our front line care workers are really the backbone of our health care system and if we don’t take care of them, who’s going to be around to take care of us when we need it?”
Workers will be trained by instructors contracted by SafeCare and some continuing care staff will also be taught to instruct their peers.
Cost is “heavily subsidized” by the non-profit organization for those wanting to take the program.
General manager Zander Cook of Haven Hill was especially excited about the partnership.
“This will enable us to empower our staff, and others in the region, with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills to create a safer environment for everyone,” said Cook. “Not only are we creating a better workplace for our staff, but we’re also creating a better care environment for our residents and it will open it up to the Okanagan in general.”
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