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Prevention School: New Training for a Unique Role

by Responsible Gambling Council | Feb 08, 2013 11:58 AM

Newscan (Vol 15, Issue 5)

A tenet of any prevention program—whether preventing problem gambling or road accidents—is information delivered at the right time to the right people in the right way. All the seatbelts in the world won’t help if people don’t know the rules of the road and which pedal applies the brakes.

When it comes to gambling, often the right time is in a gaming venue—which is where the specially trained staff at gaming resource centres come in. These centres are in place, in various formats, across all jurisdictions in Canada. In Ontario, for example, the Responsible Gambling Council runs 24 Responsible Gaming Resource Centres (RGRCs), serviced by 45 staff, at all OLG Slots and Casinos.

This year, several RGRC staff had the opportunity to pilot level 1 of a new course called the Problem Gambling Prevention & Referral Specialist Course, which is specifically designed by the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO) to support those who staff gaming resource centres and help lines. Also just launched is an associated certificate for Gambling Information Specialist, available from the Canadian Problem Gambling Certification Board (CPGCB), whose aim is to standardize and recognize the specialized skill set of these staff members, as distinct from the problem gambling counsellors also certified by the CPGCB.

A Unique Link in the Prevention Chain

While the model for staffing these gaming information centres varies across jurisdictions—some are gaming staff and some are independent contractors—they all play a unique role in the problem gambling safety net in each province. “In Ontario, staff at the RGRCs,” says program director Paula Antoniazzi, “are positioned to offer a safe—and immediate—avenue for patrons to get information and referrals to help in the community.”

This Makes Their Training Unique Too

In part because jurisdictions have implemented different staffing models, training programs vary nation-wide. The PGIO course and CGPCB certification are steps toward recognizing the unique value of this kind of work by standardizing the training needed for it. “Staff at gaming and referral centres at (or near) casinos across Canada assist players to make responsible decisions about their gambling, set expenditure levels, understand concepts about gambling and refer to appropriate assistance if necessary,” notes Don Ward, a board member for the CPGCB. “It was time for the CPGCB to recognize this new area of expertise.”

It’s About Tailoring the Message

Few who approach a staff member have a gambling problem; sometimes, patrons just want to know how a particular type of gambling works—and it’s important that staff be able to answer these questions accurately while continuing to engage the patron.

In the course, “students are taught to provide tailored messaging specific to a player’s (or family member’s) positioning on the gambling continuum,” says Janine Robinson, an advanced practice clinician and educator at PGIO. “We recognize that one size does not fit all in RG messaging. So we teach techniques to help staff identify and respond with messaging—from safer play tips to an offer of help–that is specific to each visitor’s immediate needs.”

Following are just a few questions and answers about the course and the certificate.

Who are the course and certificate designed for?

The course is designed for gaming resource centre and help line staff, as well as casino managers and responsible gambling information officers on-site in gaming facilities across Canada. It may also benefit non-counselling staff at residential treatment centres.

“The course complements our existing skills,” says Eric Dixon, a service coordinator at Casino Rama who piloted the course, “and also introduces some new approaches that are specific to our role.”

When and Where Can the Course be Taken?

There are 2 levels – the first is available this April and the second will pilot in October, 2013. Each is a 5-week online course. To register or get more information, contact Stephen Meredith at stephen.meredith@camh.ca.

What is Covered in the Course?

In Level 1, topics include gambling and messaging basics, understanding problem gambling, communication and engagement techniques. Level 2 will look at more complex workplace scenarios using more advanced techniques as well as examine specific populations, concurrent disorders, ethics and crisis management. See a breakdown of the modules.

How is the Gambling Information Specialist Certificate Different from the Problem Gambling Counsellor certificate?

The core curriculum topic requirements and hours of experience will be different for the new certification. In brief, education and experience specific to counsellors was removed and new education and experience added that is relevant to the information officer role.

How Does Someone Become Certified and How Long Does It Last?

A person gets certified by contacting the CPGCB, obtaining a certification package, and demonstrating they meet the requirements. The certification is good for 2 years. Recertification is available if certain continuing educational requirements are met. Contact the CPGCB toll free at 1-877-421-1181 for a package or send an email to info@cpgcb.ca.

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