Sechelt Hospital Foundation to reimburse tuition for CapU’s Health Care Assistant graduates

Sponsorship guarantees jobs for students and addresses home support service needs on Sunshine Coast

Bridget Stringer-Holden // Associate News Editor 
Danielle Adams // Illustrator

Last year, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Capilano University (CapU) partnered to provide a sponsorship in the form of a tuition reimbursement for students in the Health Care Assistant (HCA) program that wished to work in home or community care. Courses in the HCA program combine theory and lab skill lessons with clinical practicums to allow students to learn to provide care to clients or residents. There was a lack of workers in the field, so this VCH-CapU partnership was created to respond to that need. 

Due to last year’s success, the Sechelt Hospital Foundation offered to fund the program. They will be reimbursing the cost of tuition and other fees, such as textbooks, for students in the HCA class of 2020-21 who are willing to commit to a year of home care on the Sunshine Coast. Sponsorship recipients are required to work for at least 12 months to qualify for their tuition reimbursement, but are guaranteed at least 18 months of work. According to a Coast Reporter article, the Hospital Foundation’s decision to offer financial support was a response to an identified need for home support workers for the 469 clients on the Sunshine Coast. 

Despite the fact that the Sechelt Hospital Foundation provided the funding for the partnership, VCH continued to conduct the applicant interviews and decided that this sponsorship would only be provided for home and community care, as opposed to long-term care or other caring environments. Home care services provide support to people who have been released from the hospital and need care or who have acute, chronic, palliative or rehabilitative health care needs that aren’t able to live at home or with family safely without further care. 

Home care can be beneficial to both the government and patients. “The government is trying to keep people at home longer because it’s often [the patient’s] preference,” said Joshua Boyd, instructor and co-coordinator of the Health Care Assistant (HCA) program. “Now that’s not true for everybody, but it’s [a much] more cost-effective way for the province to provide care,” he said. 

In the Spring, Boyd reached out to the Sechelt Hospital Foundation asking to promote the HCA program at their MedTalks, an educational series about health and wellness that they produce in partnership with VCH. The series discusses various topics relating to the Sunshine Coast. Shortly after, the Sechelt Hospital Foundation reached out to Boyd about continuing the sponsorship with VCH. 

The Health Care Assistant (HCA) certificate is an eight month program that can be completed in seven through the accelerated program. According to the CapU website, the tuition and fees come to $5,393. In the HCA class of 2020-21, there are 17 students. So far, all ten students who wished to work on the Sunshine Coast in home care have successfully applied and received the sponsorship. 

Boyd remains optimistic that the program will help with the shortage of home and community care workers. “We’re hoping that this can be used as an example to other communities in Canada who are trying to solve this problem of the HCA shortage.” 


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