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The impact of training and employment as a health care aide on immigrants’ lives Wong, Fung Ping

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of training and employment as a health care aide on the personal and public lives of nine immigrants, eight of whom were women. These individuals had successfully completed a combined skills and ESL training program for Home Support or Home Support/Resident Care Attendant at an immigrant settlement agency on the west coast of Canada approximately one to two years prior to the study. The program trained the individuals to work as care aides in private homes or long term care facilities as well as provided training in English skills. A qualitative approach was chosen in order to explore the issues and themes that were relevant to the participants, from their own perspectives, with regard to the impact of training and employment as a health care aide on their lives. The findings revealed that participation in a training program had a significant impact on the individuals' lives. Acquiring an occupational skill for the health professions gave some of the individuals an occupational identity as well as personal fulfillment. For others, this training helped them to find meaningful employment and facilitated their integration into Canadian society. However, finding full-time employment proved to be a challenge for most of the participants. They encountered many barriers to employment for example, the need to work on-call and the resultant lack of a stable income; conflicts between domestic responsibilities and work outside the home; transportation limitations; and personal barriers, such as age, work experience, and education. On the positive side, participation in the training program helped the individuals to improve their English skills which increased their confidence, independence, autonomy, and self-esteem. Improvement in English skills also facilitated the individuals' settlement and integration into Canadian society. In addition, knowledge of health care had a positive impact on the individuals' ability to care for their family members. Overall, participation in a skills and language training program had a significant impact on the individuals' identity, family life, and settlement in Canada.

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