CSIU offers program for new direct care workers | News

MILTON — Central Susquehanna’s Intermediate Unit, in an effort to address the shortage of home care workers in the Valley, is offering potential caregivers its Direct Care Workers Heroes program.

The self-paced, online DCW Heroes program can lead to professional caregiver certifications in areas such as CPR, dementia, mental health, diversity and inclusion.

The Milton-based CSIU program is a self-paced online professional caregiver certificate course. Licensed home care workers can obtain certificates in CPR, dementia, mental health, equity, diversity and inclusion.

“The past two years have been challenging for home health care,” said Linda Walker, Health Care Education Coordinator. “The question is how to move forward? Virtualization is the new normal. Workers must use advanced virtual technology: Tiger Text, DocuSign and Zoom. CSIU offers a hands-on digital literacy program for adults who lack these technological skills to compete in this digital world.

Currently, they are developing a training course for fall prevention. The Heroes program also offers industry-recognized training, including OSHA Bloodborne and Airborne Pathogens training certifications for healthcare workers.

“DCW Heroes helps people who want to start a healthcare career and established healthcare workers who want to gain skills and knowledge,” said Kerri Kubalak, DCW Heroes program manager. “The program provides both online training for professional caregivers and supports a career path to becoming a certified caregiver. Career coaches provide support to those enrolled in the program through training and then obtaining employment in the health field, including home health aides and certified practical nurses. Career coaches help people after employment stay in that job by helping them overcome barriers that would otherwise cause employment issues such as transportation and childcare, connecting participants with referrals and connections from outside agencies.

Through CSIU’s Healthcare Advisory Team, DCW Heroes can provide healthcare industry insights, collaborate and work through current healthcare workforce barriers with local health employers, training providers and partner agencies. Through this team, they are able to keep up to date with current issues and legislation and collaborate on solutions, Kubalek said.

Walker said employers are turning away clients because of staff shortages.

“Employers creatively advertise hiring bonuses and salaries that aren’t viable for the agency in an effort to attract potential employees,” Walker said. “Caregivers move between clients. A reliable means of transport is essential. Many job seekers do not own a vehicle or have to share it with another family member. Gas prices are another challenge for these potential employees.

Kubalak said employers are currently struggling to recruit and retain quality healthcare workers.

“Turnover rates are high in entry-level health care and employers are unable to fill vacancies,” she said. “Training opportunities for home health aides are limited, which limits skills, quality of care and opportunities for advancement.”

Home care workers have historically struggled with unsustainable living wages, insufficient training, limited opportunities for advancement and a general lack of respect and recognition, Walker said.

“The pandemic has made this struggle worse,” she said. “These stressed workers have been drawn primarily to the fast-food industry, where wages are significantly higher, there are fewer responsibilities and better opportunities for advancement.”

Kubalak said while pre-COVID wages were comparable to those in the restaurant and retail trades, other industries increased their starting salaries during the pandemic, while home healthcare did not see the same increase.

“Many people cannot take time off work to train and work for their CNAs where the wages are slightly higher,” Kubalak said. “During COVID, certified nursing aide training programs have been closed and unable to conduct classes, leading to an increased shortage. Although some classes are open and running, they are often suspended mid-class due to COVID or COVID-related issues. There is also a shortage of nursing assistant instructors, which limits courses and course availability.

Walker said Medicaid reimbursement rates to home health agencies are low.

“Home care agencies are forced to make tough decisions,” she said. “As Medicaid compensation remains insufficient, salaries remain low. People who would thrive at home with the help of a professional caregiver are denied admission and placed in expensive and often inappropriate health care facilities. Salaries for home care employees must be competitive with other industries.

Stay current with legislation affecting the home care industry, become an active member of a state professional association, and understand and communicate with the person responsible for funding decisions in Pennsylvania. All of these are critical to solving the problem, as well as educating the public about the importance these employees play in the health care system, Walker said.

“An increase in starting salaries would incentivize individuals to enter health care and help retain those already working in the industry,” Kubalak said. “In addition, support for programs and funding that help people gain valuable basic health care training and help them overcome barriers to employment.”

RuthAnn Helfrick, the health professions careers instructor at Northumberland County Career and Technology Center in Coal Township, said the program includes nurse aide, medical aide and a small part for dental help.

“I try to prepare my student for entry-level positions such as home health aides, health care aides primarily in a hospital setting – my program is not state certified – as well as prepare for post-secondary education,” Helfrick said. “When they complete my program, they will have a home health certificate, will be certified in CPR and first aid, I can also offer a physician assistant certification and an ECG (electrocardiogram) technician certification.”

The reasons for homeworker shortages are not an easy answer, Helfrick said.

“It could be because of the salaries they earn, which are usually much lower than working in a long-term care facility or hospital, the travel can be a deterrent or just the responsibility of caring for someone at home without the support of another caregiver,” said Helfrick.

Helfrick said that for the past few years she had been trying to find home care to find care for a family member and was turned down by several agencies because they didn’t have staff who would go to the house. the Elysburg area.

“Overall, we’re seeing a shortage in all areas of health care right now, and I don’t know why. It’s a very rewarding career,” she said.

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