Support Services Aides (SSAs) – A Welcome Addition to The A Team!

With the increased responsibilities brought upon the LTC sector with the declaration of a world-wide pandemic, it became apparent that a new solution was needed to come to light to alleviate some of the staffing shortages faced by our sector.  

As a staffing partner in LTC, we quickly understood that surviving these challenging times meant that our mission needed a broader focus, and with that, an impactful motto was born towards our collective journey. “All Hearts on Deck” said Mandy, Plan A CEO, “that is what we need to truly provide a sustainable staffing strategy for our homes.”

Although we did not truly understand the detailed implications of this crisis, Plan A was quick out the door to introduce the Support Services Aides (SSAs) designation in April 2020. The goal was to assist the LTC sector to stabilize their homes and help them provide a safe place where seniors can live with dignity, comfort and have their physical, psychological, social, spiritual and cultural needs adequately met.

The SSA job description was simple – “Looking for good-hearted and courageous souls willing to jump into the eye of the storm and help our frontline workers keep our seniors safe!”, and that’s what we got!

We started interviewing for this position and found a common thread with every candidate we met. Everyone admitted that they were searching for meaningful work and they wanted to live their life with purpose – it was so inspiring to meet such beautiful people and have them join our mission! With the various personalities we attracted, we were able to create various teams that started working around the clock to provide support that included light surface cleaning, stocking of PPE, cleaning wheelchairs, screening at the front door and feeding residents – basically any task needed to support our homes in their duty to protect our seniors. These A Teamers also provided one-on-one care to ensure that residents felt supported and loved.

It was not long before one of our homes in the Halton region realized how resourceful this team could be; they designed and implemented an impactful residential day program that provided direct care to their residents. Maya, an SSA, pioneered and delivered this activity program and this is how she described her experience: 

The current circumstances have impacted the LTC sector immensely and have created a time where help is so desperately needed. As an SSA working in the Recreational Support Program, I have had the opportunity to ‘BE that help’. The program provides our residents with the care and attention they so deserve. Every day I get to put a smile on the residents’ faces and get them involved and engaged, which is so valuable, especially in a time when their families cannot be there. You can truly see an automatic change in behaviour when they are doing activities they enjoy. I am so grateful for Plan A for providing this opportunity, and I am so happy to have a continuous positive impact on the lives of my residents.

An RN at one of our partnered homes has also seen a tremendous difference in the residents’ behaviour… “So very thankful for the SSAs from Plan A Halton who provide excellent service and support to our residents. Your companionship, stimulating activities and kindness are greatly appreciated.”

The responsibilities assigned to this position are being adapted to the needs of the sector and SSAs can now find themselves providing some administrative support while working alongside the registered delegates delivering the Rapid Antigen Program or helping seniors connect safely with the family members during outside visits. 

As we continue the fight against COVID-19, let us give thanks to all of the courageous frontline heroes for their ability to overcome their fears and brave the halls of our homes daily to safeguard our most vulnerable seniors.  

~ Annie Morin, Co-Owner, Plan A Halton

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