Lethbridge College has revamped its Health Care Aide program with a new curriculum.
Launched at the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year, students have successfully completed the first year of the new curriculum, which gives them a wider range of knowledge and hands-on skills.
Nicole Forsyth, the college’s chair of the School of Allied Health and an instructor in the Practical Nurse program says the new Health Care Aide curriculum has been a success with both students and their future employers in the health care industry.
“The feedback that we've received from some of our internal partners, as well as their external stakeholders, is that they’re really excelling in their work-integrated-learning experiences and they are well prepared,” says Forsyth.
The new curriculum underwent changes to add more focus to pressing topics in health care, provide more time in clinical and lab experiences, and to extend the length of the program from one semester to a whole year. It also prepares those wishing to work as a health care aide in Alberta for a new, mandatory provincial exam.
The new curriculum also has a stronger focus on complex health issues.
“Additions to the curriculum were an increase in education around palliative care, dementia care, mental health and addictions,” says Forsyth. “As well, Alberta Health added some pieces around cultural diversity. Those areas were covered in the old curriculum, but the new curriculum puts a lot more emphasis on those areas.”
The new curriculum also has a focus on professional development and information technology and includes consolidated labs to give students more hands-on learning opportunities.
“We also saw some consolidated labs within this new curriculum, which were added to increase application of learning in a simulated environment, so they have some simulated scenario-based learning that they do in those consolidated labs,” says Forsyth.
One consolidated lab experience students get to take part in is, the “journey through dementia.”
“The students will go through that experience, experiencing the stages of this patient’s journey,” explains Forsyth. “Starting out with their illness and then the progression of their illness, then they become palliative, so then they go through end-of-life care and then it actually ends with the death of the patient. Then they do the care of the patient after death as well.”
In order to deliver this curriculum, the college had to go through an application and review process, they have another review coming up in September. Part of that review will include a site visit and the program could be approved for up to four years.
To apply for the new Health Care Aide program, or to learn more about it, go to lethbridgecollege.ca/programs/health-care-aide.