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While many people work from home during the pandemic, Lambton College student Harpreet Kaur is doing the opposite — she lives at work.

Vision Long Term Care Home in Sarnia has partnered with Lambton College in a program that allows international students to live and work in the home while studying health-care related fields. According to the Lambton College website, students can work as personal support workers, resident support or dietary aides, housekeepers, recreational facilitators and administrators.

The program tackles the increasing need for health-care workers and limited student housing in the region.

“It is decent place and nice environment and I have classmates here. It’s a peaceful and friendly environment, so it’s good to reach your workplace in one minute,” said Kaur, who recently moved to Canada from India.

She is in second year of the college’s gerontology program, which is about elderly care, and works as a PSW in the home.

LISTEN: CBC Radio’s Afternoon Drive speaks with Harpreet Kaur about her experience

Afternoon Drive8:02Lambton College and Vision Nursing Home Offer a Helpful Collaboration

The Advanced Heath Care Leadership graduate certificate is a partnership between Lambton College and the Vision Long Term Care Home in Sarnia. The program allows international students to live and work at the long term care home while they study in healthcare related fields at Lambton College. Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre speaks with Brian Mundt, Vision’s project manager and Harpreet Kaur, a second-year Gerontology student who is living at Vision. 8:02

She said the experience has allowed her to learn, work and bond with some of the long-term care residents.

“When I say that, ‘I live here, where you live,’ they like it,” she said.

Vision’s project manager, Brian Mundt, said the program started to provide extra student housing spaces in the region.

The organization converted a section of the home into a residence that can accommodate 11 students.

“We do it as dorm style so they have shared accommodations, communal kitchen area and kind of what you would see at a typical residence,” he said.

The program began a year before the pandemic, meaning students were living in the care home during COVID-19 outbreaks.

Mundt told CBC Radio’s Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre, that having the students around during that time was helpful.

“With the vast turnaround we’ve had in the long-term care sector, the little bit of stability we’ve had with the students has been very beneficial and, yeah, highly praised among other staff,” he said.

And as for Kaur, who was a registered nurse in India, she said managing the pandemic required her to balance resident needs while also taking care of herself.

“Everyone was scared even in the Vision nursing home, [but] we had all the restrictions and protective measures so it all went well,” she said.

“There was a little bit of pressure for all of us that we have to be safely working and at the same time we have to do care of residents and take care of us as well, but … we managed to control the situation. ”

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