A unique model for training and care

By Sarah Quadri

Taylor McMonagle has hope – and happiness – for the future.  As a young, single mother to twin boys, almost four years old, she’s found a home in health and a true passion, caring for other people.

But her journey to happiness hasn’t always been easy.


“I found out I was pregnant one month before I was supposed to leave for a post-secondary program in respiratory therapy; I was 19 years old,” says the former competitive soccer player from London, Ontario, who’s juggling a full schedule between home, school and work.  “Soccer was my first love and I had to make sacrifices; I had to pay rent for the school semester and I wasn’t even there.  I gave birth two weeks after my 20th birthday.  It was a really difficult time.  I am so grateful I found SE Health.”

SE Health, an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise and one of the largest health care providers in Canada has been delivering exceptional health care in people’s homes and communities, pioneering health practices and sharing cutting-edge knowledge for over a century. The organization is proud to help McMonagle to realize her love for health care and practice her passion in a new and innovative way.

“I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do and it feels so good,” says McMonagle, described by her family and friends as ambitious, hardworking and passionate. “I was working at Tim Horton’s because I didn’t have a lot of options and I needed to support my boys; but then one day I was looking online and I came across the SE Health HSW-PSW Program and it was screaming my name, I needed to do that!”

As part of SE Health’s commitment to care and health leadership, the organization has a registered and provincially regulated career college.  In 2018, the college created a one-of-a-kind Home Support Worker (HSW) and Personal Support Worker (PSW) program – that run-in sequence – to meet the needs for PSWs in its Service Delivery Centres (SDCs) across Ontario.

In the 29-week, integrated program, students begin with a four-week paid HSW training program.  Then, as HSWs, they complete the PSW program while working as an HSW at the same time. The flexible, five-hour schedule, each day – classes begin at 11:00a.m. –  allows students to work before and after classes.  There are no tuition costs and they earn a pay cheque for their work as an HSW.  As part of the program, students sign a Return of Service agreement which helps to meet the care needs of SE Health’s SDCs across Ontario. Upon completion of the program, graduates are eligible for employment in many different health care settings, including community and long-term care.

The program is also helping to highlight the importance of the HSW role in the scope of home care services. As an SE Health HSW, these employees are an essential part of the overall health care team. Together with their Personal Support Supervisor, they work with a variety of clients and other health care professionals to promote client independence and provide excellence in client-centered care. By integrating the HSW into the care team SE Health is maximizing the use of its health care resources and providing a complete care experience for the client.

“This is a wonderful program and we are ecstatic to offer this opportunity in communities across Ontario,” says Nancy Lefebre, SVP and Chief Clinical Executive at SE Health.  “As the only health care organization in Ontario with a Ministry approved PSW program,” SE Health has the unique opportunity to deliver this as a mobile program and set up courses in cities where we have the greatest need for this type of learning and training.  We’ve had incredible results and we are truly excited to be bringing care training opportunities ‘closer to home’ for everyone.”

“SE Health has given me the opportunity to attend a full-time, recognized program while still earning an income,” adds McMonagle.  “It can be extremely difficult to attend classes full time and keep a part time job while juggling the rest of life. But since I am working for the same organization that I am learning from; working for two to three hours before and after class is great; it’s the ideal situation for me and my boys.”

“We recognize that potential PSWs do not always have access to a college, or the ability to pay the required tuition; nor are they in a position to be out of work for the time required to take the program,” says Kim Miller-Utley, Senior Lead of SE Health Learning and an instructor in the program.  “We also recognize the immediate need of our SDCs to have support workers on the ground working. Our solution of a mobile HSW-PSW integrated program benefits everyone.”

McMonagle adds that the support in the program has exceeded her expectations and the concurrent learning and working opportunity is ideal for understanding and applying health care protocols and policies and providing client care.

This innovative HSW-PSW learning opportunity is one of several programs offered by the SE Career Collegea not-for-profit, regulated school, operated by SE Health. The Career College and PSW program is registered and approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. Widely acclaimed for innovative practices, SE Career College of Health is at the forefront of delivering excellence in health care education.

Sarah Quadri is Head of Communications at SE Health.