The good news is that many of the programs and supports for learners already exist. Still, navigating the maze of entry requirements, equivalency assessments, bursary programs, college programs, exam requirements, and practicum placements can be daunting — especially for someone still working on English language proficiency.

To reduce the complexity around the maze of steps, CHAA believes the most important aspect is to make it easier for HCAs to learn on-the-job while they’re securely anchored to a learn-and-work position within a care home.

Alberta’s highly successful Workplace Tutor Program (WTP) got it right when they recognized we’d graduate more domestic HCAs if we allowed learners to start working (and getting paid) immediately after completing some initial course work. Learners are attached to a continuing care operator early in their journey as they progress through a mix of formal course work (both online and workplace classroom) and on-the-job mentoring and supervision.

CHAA operators are highly supportive of WTP: the experience allows learners to experience, first-hand, the exceptional environment of a not-for-profit care home — while working alongside team members with similar values and perspectives on care and compassion at work.

Getting to that first paid position can be tricky, however, and CHAA members have had some great discussions on how we collaborative as non-profits and ensure our care homes are equipped to offer an ideal environment for learners.

Our ideas:

  • Offer a low-obligation starting point (basic training, volunteering or job shadowing) to see if working in a care home is the right move. More of our care homes are proposing ways for learners to try out HCA-like work before committing to formal HCA education.

  • For those ready to start their HCA training journey: CHAA is working with learners to explore what we can do differently to help learners tackle the prerequisite grade 11 level English course to help more learners qualify for the program.

  • Financial supports: We’re looking at streamlining the availability and timing of tuition bursaries so learners can get the right kind of financial support — at the right time.

  • The WTP provides a built-in practicum placement (a requirement to graduate) and we’re working on solutions to ensuring the placement fits with the learner’s schedule, location and sequencing.

  • Final exam writing: Some learners know their material 100% but struggle in a high pressure exam environment. We’ve identified ways to support learners with more regular check-ins to ensure students are better prepared to We’re looking at how to support exam writers so they succeed the first time.

CHAA is working with potential learners and staff, care home operators, government, post-secondary institutions and other stakeholders toward new options and solutions to increase the number of HCAs across Alberta.

Related Content

Learn more about why working in not-for-profit is different.