Student Profile: Thom Boehm
What did you learn in the Continuing Care Assistant program?
In the Continuing Care Assistant program, we learned the basics of healthcare. There was a lot of information about body systems. We covered dementia, we covered the body systems, we covered palliative care, we covered childbirth, we covered venereal diseases, you name it, we covered it; we covered a lot of material in seven months. It was pretty intensive.
Can you talk about your placement?
I was very familiar with my placement because it where my wife has already worked for 20 years, so I went there already knowing a lot of the staff and even some of the residents. I had never done personal care before, so we went in for the first time with skills one as students with just basically observing and following a CCA around and watching them do the care. And then slowly we got experienced. We had two skills placements where we went there as students, and then we had the 16-hour portion midway through, where we were allowed to earn money, so we were paid and we basically did the work of a CCA as a student.
Can you talk a bit about the support you received during the program and if you would recommend the program to someone you know?
Our teacher in the program was Leona Roach. She’s a former nurse. She’d worked with the VON in the past and she was an excellent teacher. She was very good and she really worked with our class to get us all through every stage of the course, explained stuff well, and helped us prepare for the tests and quizzes.
Whether it was students who struggled with the need for accommodations, or students who had unexpected situations arise that required travel, the school worked with these students to see that they would succeed. They offered patience and understanding, extra-time for tests and quizzes, and worked with the students who for various reasons had trouble getting their mentorship portions done in the allotted time period. They really earned my respect by how they respectfully worked with these students, who otherwise had done real well in the course, to see them successfully finish. So, yes, I would highly recommend CBBC to anyone who would be interested in taking the course.
Why did you want to take the CCA program?
I’d worked at my factory for 22 years and it was time to do something different with the last 15 years of my work life. Then when a friend of mine was signed up for the CBBC course and she told me about it and I thought, “Well, hey, it’s a good time.” My mom’s at the age now where she has VON coming three times a day, and I thought that’s something I’d like to do for my last work years is take care of people who need assistance like my mother does.
What are your plans for when you finish the program?
There will be no problem finding work after I finish the course. I mean, I finished the last of my mentorship and the exam won’t be till later, but we can start working as a student right away with decent wages. So yeah, employment is no problem.
What kind of person is this program best-suited for?
The CCA program would be best suited for an empathetic individual, somebody who’s interested in caring for other people, who’s able to pay attention to other people’s needs and wants, and adjust their care when they’re giving it to the person and what they need. Everybody’s different, and even though the basics of care are the same, each resident is different and the way they want you to do their care.
I’m pretty good with people, and there was one lady I just could not get to warm up to me until I realized that she really didn’t like loud noises. If you walked into a room, she didn’t want you to say good morning. You just had to go in there quietly, and once I learned that, then she was fine with me. But you have to learn to adjust yourself and how you carry yourself with each different person that you deal with because, of course, everybody’s an individual and their wants and needs are different and these things don’t get less as we get older, they get more, so people are more sensitive to everything and this course helps you navigate that.
What advice would you have for anyone considering the program?
Get your textbooks all downloaded, have everything ready to go before the course starts so that when you go to that first class, you’re ready for what’s coming because it moves at a fast pace. I mean, it used to be a two-year course and they’ve compressed it into seven months. It’s a long intensive day and there’s a quiz every three days. You’d go through a module and then there’d be a quiz. Being able to navigate the online platform, I think is really, really an important part of it.
And lastly, what was your favourite part of the CCA program?
My favourite part of the CCA program would’ve been our labs. CBBC had rented the fellowship hall of a local church, and so we practiced in person and really got to know our fellow students and spend time with them. Meeting our classmates and teacher face-to-face was definitely a highlight for us all, I think.