Nursing home offering lodging, bonuses to entice PSWs

·2 min read

An eastern Ontario long-term care home is so desperate for personal support workers (PSWs) it's offering free accommodation and thousands of dollars in signing bonuses to fresh recruits.

Maxville Manor in Maxville, Ont., about 75 kilometres southeast of downtown Ottawa, is currently short 11 PSWs, or about 15 per cent of its support staff.

The PSW shortage is so deep within the province that I don't think it really matters whether you're urban or rural. It is impacting everybody. - Amy Porteous, Maxville Manor

"There's a shortage across Ontario, and Maxville Manor is feeling that shortage as well," said Amy Porteous, the home's CEO. "I think the PSW shortage is so deep within the province that I don't think it really matters whether you're urban or rural. It is impacting everybody."

To fill those vacancies, Porteous said the 122-bed nursing home, which also has 20 independent living units, is offering new hires temporary paid accommodation, plus a $5,000 bonus to new graduates of a PSW program, paid by the Ministry of Long-Term Care, after six months.

Maxville Manor has also teamed up with a job search website to hold an online job fair this week, and is hoping to hire PSWs on the spot.

The home has also entered into a partnership with St. Lawrence College's Cornwall campus, and is offering work placement opportunities to qualified students.

COVID-19 outbreak at home

Complicating the recruitment drive is the fact that Maxville Manor is currently in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, and existing staff are "risking their lives" coming into work every day, Porteous said.

Since Dec. 29, one staff member, two family caregivers and two residents have tested positive for the illness. Porteous said so far all the cases have been either asymptomatic or mild. She credits Ontario's rapid testing pilot project for helping the home keep the outbreak under control.

Under the Eastern Ontario Health Unit's regulations, employees of a facility where there's an outbreak must self-isolate when they return home each day, Porteous said.

Kristie Campbell
Kristie Campbell

As a result of that precaution, Porteous said she hasn't been able to spend time with her husband and three children since the end of December.

"It breaks my heart when my kids ask me when they're going to be able to hug me again. But it is what it is, and it is what we need to do right now in order to keep them safe and to keep the manor safe," she said. "It's a small price to pay, though, to ensure the safety of everyone, and I am so proud of the staff here for their personal sacrifice that they're making."