Ontario invests in innovative training for health care professionals

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TORONTO, Canada — The Ontario government is investing $1.2 million through the Learning Inter-Professionally Healthcare Accelerator (LIPHA), a new program to support innovative and flexible training for current and future personal support workers (PSWs) and nurses. The program is being made available for free to over 80,000 nurses and PSWs currently employed in Ontario’s long-term care homes and will provide a virtual space with simulated cases for teams and individuals in the sector to practice caring for virtual residents.

“The new LIPHA program is an important investment in the education of current and future PSWs and nurses in our province,” said Jill Dunlop, minister of Colleges and Universities. “I encourage all long-term care homes and postsecondary education institutions in Ontario to consider adopting LIPHA, as it is a valuable training tool that can provide personalized, on-demand training for students and existing health care professionals.”

LIPHA is a virtual simulation- and game-based learning program that will be provided free to all of Ontario’s long-term care providers and students training to work in long-term care as PSWs or nurses. The Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation (CLRI) in Long-Term Care has been working in collaboration with the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), Baycrest’s Centre for Education and Knowledge Exchange in Aging and Rotman Research Institute (RRI) to further refine, evaluate, implement, spread, and scale the innovative training platform.

The LIPHA app, which can be accessed from any computer or mobile device 24/7, can be adopted by long-term care homes to enhance and accelerate their existing training and orientation processes for nurses and PSWs. LIPHA can help provide onboarding to new hires, refresh the skills of existing staff, and upskill redeployed staff.

LIPHA is also a valuable training tool for Ontario’s postsecondary education institutions, as it propels students to higher levels of competency, while enabling self-directed learning within a serious educational game. By offering multi-media, experiential learning that includes case-based simulations and educational resources, students can safely practice caring for virtual patients and get instant feedback on their progress.

“As a result of COVID-19, long-term care is facing staff shortages unlike any we’ve seen before. We urgently need more frontline staff working to directly care for these most vulnerable members of society,” said Dr Allison Sekuler, managing director, CABHI and the Rotman Research Institute, and Sandra A. Rotman chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and vice-president research, Baycrest.

“Moving forward through and beyond this pandemic requires new approaches to skill-building, re-skilling, and up-skilling within the sector, including novel ways of attracting more students to consider careers in healthcare. We are thrilled that CABHI and the RRI have played such critical roles in the refinement, validation, and mobilization of LIPHA – supporting training for LTC teams to help all older Ontarians live their best possible lives.”

“The Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation at Baycrest and our partners are excited to offer long-term care team members and students an easy to access, high-quality virtual training solution to ensure residents receive excellence in care,” said Dr David Conn, vice-president education, Baycrest. “Closing the skills gap in long-term care requires an innovative approach to support rapid progress. LIPHA’s applicability with existing and next-generation frontline healthcare providers, and its gamified and self-directed approach allows learners to become more engaged with their training yielding benefits like better retention, which leads to better care.”

“Our government is hiring a historic number of PSWs, RPNs and RNs to increase the hours of care and improve the quality residents receive, now and in the future,” said Rod Phillips, minister of long-term Ccre. “By funding innovative learning tools like the one announced today, we are ensuring that we are able to recruit and train the tens of thousands of new staff that the long-term care sector needs.”

This investment is part of the government’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan and is another example of how the province is working with key partners to improve the care and quality of life for people living in long-term care, while addressing the shortage of trained health care professionals.

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