When the South West Home Care team gathers each morning at West Winds Primary Health Centre, they are fresh and raring to go, even though they arrive well before their 6:30 a.m. huddle time. On this particular cold January morning, the team of continuing care assistants (CCAs) meets face-to-face with manager Jackie Ens and scheduler Bev Leighton. Sometimes, Leighton and Ens will be on the phone instead, but the face-to-face meetings help keep everyone connected.

Bev Leighton (centre) discusses scheduling with the team.

Bev Leighton (centre) discusses scheduling with the team.

“This has changed the way we work,” says Ens. “I love the teamwork with CCAs, our scheduler and my co-manager Carla. We are so excited about matching workload to CCA positions. We finally are getting the picture of our day to day needs for CCAs.”

The pilot project decentralizes two teams of CCAs from the Home Care office at Idylwyld Centre. One set of teams meets at Scott-Forget Towers on the south east side of Saskatoon and the other set of teams meets at West Winds at the start of each shift. They huddle with their scheduler and manager to determine what the assignments are and how they will travel to their appointments. It’s a major shift in the approach to scheduling CCAs. Typically, the scheduling can send CCAs all over the city. Through this project, the focussed scheduler gets to know the clients almost as well as the CCA and can ensure the same person goes to visit a client just about all the time.

Denise Pope (left) and Theresa Schmidt are members of the South West Home Care team.

Denise Pope (left) and Theresa Schmidt are members of the South West Home Care team.

“We have control over what we’re doing,” says Theresa Schmidt, a 19-year CCA. “Instead of being sent from one side of the city to another, we can concentrate on our clients.”

“Before, we would have our caseloads, and then we would be switched around,” adds Denise Pope, a CCA for 12 years. “Now we have our clients and they get to know us.”

Pope firmly believes in the new huddle system. “(The huddle) makes us accountable, making sure the work gets done and everyone is getting taken care of. (The client’s) concerns and issues are addressed right away.”

Both the West Winds and the Scott-Forget teams have a vested interest in the pilot project working out.

Jackie Ens is thrilled with the results of the pilot project so far.

Jackie Ens is thrilled with the results of the pilot project so far.

They will set the tone for expanding the training of Home Care CCAs throughout the city to do the same as they’re doing.

Ens is positive about how the pilot project will improve care for clients and work conditions for staff. “I definitely have hope, as the project itself is succeeding beyond my dreams and what this model is showing us in terms of manager workload and client needs and CCA need for support.”