The Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre (FSC), a pan-Canadian initiative dedicated to helping Canadians gain the skills needed to thrive in a changing labour market, has announced an investment of $1.65M to expand the Canadian Remote Access for Dementia Learning Experiences (CRADLE) program - a free online dementia care training program spearheaded by the Canadian Institute for Seniors Care at Conestoga College.
Available in multiple languages, the training explores evidence-informed, person-centred approaches to supporting a person living with dementia as well as their care partners, and is the first fully online, multilingual education opportunity specifically designed for unregulated care workers (UCWs) across Canada.
The funding is part of a $19M investment by the FSC to expand 13 training and career services programs that help retrain and upskill jobseekers. The emphasis is to meet evolving workplace demands in several key sectors and to include new and diverse labour market participants, particularly those who have been underserved such as women, immigrants and Indigenous peoples.
Funding for the Conestoga project, Scaling up the Canadian Remote Access for Dementia Learning Experiences (CRADLE+), follows an initial FSC investment of almost $1.2M.
"The Future Skills Centre is committed to accelerating innovative practices in skills development in order to help the squeeze many industries are feeling across Canada,” said Pedro Barata, executive director, Future Skills Centre. “These project partners have demonstrated a drive to test, learn and find promising approaches that will help workers, employers and industries adapt and thrive in the economy of the future.”
CRADLE introduces learners to five seniors living with dementia and offers practical yet evidence-based approaches to dementia care using interactive features and rich media. The content reflects the real-world complexities of caring for people living with dementia since it has been designed by UCWs and employers, advocacy groups, educators and policymakers. CRADLE targets three populations as the primary beneficiaries: newcomers to Canada working as UCWs, UCWs working in rural and remote areas, and nursing home and home care employers across Canada.
More than 10,800 individuals have registered for the English, French, Mandarin or Tagalog version of the program. Preliminary analyses of surveys completed before and after course completion reveal the online course significantly improved survey respondents’ knowledge of dementia and that survey respondents were highly satisfied with all five of the course’s modules.
CRADLE+ will advance the project’s aims to empower unregulated care providers who support people living with dementia across the country by developing five additional modules, translating CRADLE content into two Indigenous languages, and tailoring its recruitment campaign to target rural and remote communities in collaboration with its national partners.
“We are very grateful for the continued investment from Future Skills Canada,” said Dr. Veronique Boscart, executive director, Canadian Institute for Seniors Care. “We look forward to building on the existing CRADLE project and extending its reach to support skills development for Canada’s unregulated care workers.”
The Canadian Institute for Seniors Care, led by Dr. Veronique Boscart, the CIHR/Schlegel Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Seniors Care, focuses on education, workforce development and applied research to develop highly qualified personnel to improve the quality of life and care for Canada’s growing population of seniors.