Safer jobs for caregivers

Chelsea Powrie

Caregivers who work with seniors in the Okanagan Valley now have an option for additional training especially tailored to help them reduce and avoid workplace injuries. 

SafeCare BC opened its first satellite location in the entire B.C. Interior Thursday morning, at Penticton's Haven Hill Retirement Centre. 

CEO Jennifer Lyle said it is the fifth location overall since the program began in Burnaby. 

"Since SafeCare BC started five years ago, the injury rate has gone down," Lyle said. "[It was] over nine per cent, now down to 7.8 per cent as of last year. So we're seeing good decreases, we're making headway, we still have a ways to go."

The program will be free for Haven Hill continuing caregivers and subsidized for others around the Interior. Specialized teaching equipment has been installed in the retirement centre, which will also be used by students training to become caregivers at local colleges. 

Lyle said the aim is to help workers understand common risks and learn to mitigate them. 

"In long-term care specifically, what we see is safe-handling related injuries, so over-exertion, for example somebody hurts their back or their neck or their shoulder," Lyle explained. "And then we also see acts of violence as a rising area of concern. So those are the top two ways people get hurt on the job in continuing care."

There is a shortage of caregivers all around the province, and the hope is fewer injuries will mean fewer workers leaving the job.

"It will decrease WorkSafe BC claims as well, which is another big goal, but foremost the safety of the team member as well," said Haven Hill general manager Zander Cook, who said he is thrilled to have the program on site. "That's the goal of this, reduce injuries to keep people safe and keep them at work. "

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton was on hand for the official ribbon cutting, and he echoed the sentiment of workforce shortages. 

"The workplace injuries make a big difference, not only to the person that's injured and the recuperation time that it takes for the person to resolve those injuries, but the loss of staff," Ashton said. "It's so challenging."

For more information on SafeCare BC, click here

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