Are you looking for a career in a field that’s guaranteed to need workers for at least the next few decades? Do you like working with people? Are you able to communicate in French, German or Italian? Then you may be interested in training to become a healthcare aide.
Today, it’s common knowledge that the world’s population is aging. The Swiss Health Observatory estimated in 2009 that the number of people in Switzerland over the age of 65 will increase by 66-percent between 2005 and 2030, and the number of people over 80 will double. Many of these people will need nursing care at some point in their lives. This means that more and more professionals will be required to care for the aging in a variety of living situations.
In order to help meet the need for caregivers, the Swiss Red Cross offers a range of courses throughout Switzerland. One of those is basic training as a healthcare assistant, referred to as ‘Lehrgang Pflegehelferin/Pflegehelfer SRK’ in German and ‘Formation d’auxiliaire de santé CRS’ in French.
“The course, which consummates in a nationally recognised certificate, gives students a foundation in nursing care,” says Hélène Beausoleil, who is in charge of training and health for the Geneva Red Cross. The class includes topics such as hygiene and safety, teamwork and communication, resource use and health promotion, and providing support to the elderly and disabled in the basic activities of daily living (feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.).
The training course includes 120 hours of theory and a 12-day practical apprenticeship carried out under the supervision of nursing staff, says Beausoleil. The skills learned can be applied in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, private residences, rehabilitation centres, homes for the disabled, and other healthcare institutions.
According to the Director of Communications in the Department of Health and Integration at the Swiss Red Cross, Urs Frieden, the course is attended by more than 4,000 students per year. “It’s a good option for people who can speak the local language and want to integrate in the working world.”
It is not necessary to have worked in nursing previously in order to take the course, which prepares students for jobs at the lowest level in a hospital or institution. Swiss women who take the course are often returning to the working world after taking time out to raise children. To date, well over 50,000 people—primarily women—have completed the course and are working as healthcare aides in Switzerland, says Frieden.
Caring for the elderly is a growth market for job seekers in Switzerland. In 2013, according to the Federal Statistical Office, 261,408 people were cared for by Spitex, the Swiss home healthcare service, and 142,766 people lived in retirement and nursing homes. Sixty percent of the Swiss population over age 80 is currently receiving care in an institution or at home.
Not only will increasing numbers of people require assistance as the population ages, many of the people working in the field are heading toward retirement. More than 90-percent of nursing home directors surveyed by the University of Basel for its Swiss Nursing Homes Human Resources Project reported that recruiting nursing staff was difficult.
Filling healthcare jobs in Switzerland will be increasingly challenging, as highlighted by Annemarie Huber-Hotz, President of the Swiss Red Cross, following the nationwide vote in February 2014 approving a proposal to limit immigration from countries belonging to the European Union.
“One of the sectors that will suffer most as a result of the new legislation is caregiving and nursing,” said Huber-Hotz. “Until now, we’ve had to fill a third of our personnel needs with healthcare workers from other countries.” The Red Cross course offers entry into the world of nursing at a very basic level. The course is structured according to a national curriculum, but locally there are some differences in the prerequisites for participation. Some cantons require students to be 18 years of age, whereas others accept students aged 16 or older. The ability to speak, understand, read and write the course language is necessary, but cantons differ in which language diplomas they require. Course fees vary slightly from region to region, at somewhere above CHF 2,000.
Further qualities desired in applicants include the following:
- Motivated and interested in working with people who need help and care, in particular the elderly
- Prepared to work as part of a team
- In good physical, mental and emotional health.
To find out whether the course is offered in a nearby community, consult the Red Cross website.
For courses in French go to:<a title="Visit website" href="http://www.redcross generic cymbalta.ch/fr/la-crs-dans-votre-region” target=”_blank”>www.redcross.ch/fr/la-crs-dans-votre-region
German-language courses are listed at:www.redcross-edu.ch/kurse (search for ‘Lehrgang Pflegehelferin, Pflegehelfer SRK’).
For information about courses in Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland go to: www.crocerossaticino.ch/settore-corsi
Article by Jeannie Wurz