By: Jennifer Hutton MSW, RSW
Within our community, there are so many different types of helpers that are completing multiple acts of service day in and day out. We are fortunate to have skilled staff at Women’s Crisis Services that complete a lot more than ‘one act’ each and every day.
Over the past year, Women’s Crisis Services staff provided training to Personal Support Workers (PSWs) students. This program focused on teaching these students how to recognize, respond to and how to refer elsewhere, in situations where they are concerned that a patient with whom they are working may be experiencing domestic violence.
Following a recommendation from the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, that “Personal Support Workers should receive specialized training in understanding the dynamics of domestic violence and vulnerable victims”, Women’s Crisis Services developed a training program for PSW students on recognizing abuse in one of our most vulnerable populations – seniors. We wanted these students to enter the field already having an understanding of domestic violence and knowing where they could go for more information. Helping students develop confidence in their assessment skills, sensitivity in their responses and the ability to competently assist patients in accessing the services that they need were all goals of the project.
To date, this program has included; two dedicated staff trainers providing nine hours of training (over six sessions), which reached 110 students. Many more hours were spent evaluating and adapting the program. This is just the beginning as we will continue to grow and expand this program and work with our community partners to ensure the material represents our diverse community.
As a part of the training, we used a pretest to measure the PSW’s current level of knowledge on domestic violence. This helped us by providing us with a baseline measure. Following the presentation a post test was used to determine if the student’s knowledge improved. We also used this tool to inquire into whether we met the other goals that we were trying to achieve. The results were very consistent in reporting that the student’s overall knowledge of domestic violence was improved, as well as their confidence level and ability to know where and how to refer their patient’s in such cases of abuse.
Students were presented with a certificate of completion.