A move to hire possibly thousands of Comfort Care aides to work in hospitals doesn’t sit well with the regional manager of Helping Hands Home support services.
Recently job postings have been springing up for the new position. One Manpower.com shows 2,000 new openings for Comfort Care Aides. In the position description, “Comfort Care Aides (CCAs) assist Registered Nurses, Licenced Practical Nurses, and Health Care Aides, providing a wide range of assistance including companionship and life-enrichment activities with residents, assisting with mobile communication devices to ensure ongoing opportunities for engagement with families and loved ones, and assisting with some basic personal care, cleaning and screening as determined by the site.”
Tracy Kennedy, communications advisor for AHS says Manpower Staffing Services was contracted by Alberta Health Services at the end of December to recruit Comfort Care Aides for AHS and contractor-operated sites across the province. These are Designated Supportive Living and Long Term Care, both AHS and contractor-operated. Comfort Care Aides will be employees of Manpower Staffing Services, will be recruited locally, and will work under the direction of AHS or contracted operator site leadership,” she said in an email.
Leah Thebeau of Helping hands is just learning about the new position and has many concerns. Helping Hands has been operating in the Drumheller, Hanna, and Three Hills area since 1999. Before the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, they were also providing companionship and feed assistance in long-term care facilities at the clients’ expense. While some restrictions have been lifted allowing some of its staff to become ‘designated essential visitors,’ for residents that don’t have a local family. The rules have prevented them from returning to provide services.
“It becomes a little bit baffling… why on earth would we suddenly decide to charge this service to taxpayers and put thousands of more people into these facilities that contain our most vulnerable citizens?” said Thebeau.
She says the staff she has already at facilities could serve the clients, at no cost to AHS.
She is also concerned about the qualifications for the new positions. The ad on Manpower calls for a Grade 10 education and English proficiency.
“The job descriptions I have found are doing things like doing personal dressing and bathing, helping with ambulation. They are going to be cleaning, scrubbing tubs and cleaning high tough surfaces, and screening people for COVID,” she said. “All of those are different departments and different unions.”
The descriptions also note comfort aides are not a self-governing health profession and must work under the supervision and direction
of a regulated health professional such as a Registered Nurse, Registered Psychiatric Nurse, or Licensed Practical Nurse while delivering health care services. Thebeau wonders who will be supervising when they are performing other tasks that aren’t related to care.