Category Archives: Senior Care Professionals

Time for Solutions: Aging Services Workforce Development

We must build the future aging service workforce NOW.

Aging Services providers are screaming from the mountain tops about the workforce crisis.   Could it be that policy makers are finally listening?

The workforce crisis is about the inability of aging services providers to fill open positions and the lack of competitive wages.

Most definitely,  a hopeful headline announced President Biden’s plan investing billions to build an aging services workforce.  

The Value of Excellence in Elder Care

The time is right to seriously discuss the value of quality Elder Care in the United States.  In addition, it is imperative that we intensify  advocacy for improvements to strengthen services and supports for consumers.  Moreover,  we must enhance jobs for 4.6 million home care workers and nursing assistants.

With this in mind, the ethical and philosophical questions to examine include:

  • Does our system act in such a way to produce a greater amount of good over harm?
  • Do we maximize utility- the sum of the benefits produced minus the costs (dis-benefits)?
  • Do we have a system that we all want for ourselves?
  • Fidelity- have we kept our promise, and are we forsaking the well-being of our elders?
  • Have we assigned an appropriate societal value to the work provided by personal caregivers?

Next Steps

PHI is an organization on the front lines of advocacy for the aging services workforce.  To that end, PHI works to transform eldercare and disability services to foster dignity, respect, and independence—for all who receive care, and all who provide it.  Additionally, as the nation’s leading authority on the direct care workforce, PHI promotes quality direct care jobs as the foundation for quality care.

AGE-u-cate Training Institute® is excited to host Robert Espinoza, VP Policy, PHI for our next Virtual Road Trip.  Mr. Espinoza will discuss how we can advocate for improvements to enhance jobs for 4.6 million home care workers and nursing assistants.

Please join us Wednesday, April 21 at 1:00pm CST.  No cost registration here. 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a the Director of Grants and Consulting Projects and a Certified Master Trainer with AGE-u-cate Training Institute. In addition, she is an instructor and of Gerontology and Leadership in Aging Services at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

How Can We Better Support and Educate Family Caregivers?

Family CaregiversAccording to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans (or 29 percent of the adult U.S. adult population involving 31 percent of all U.S. households) served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.   That is 65.7 million family caregivers who are desperately needing education, training, support and help with finding available resources.  We must do a better job as these numbers are increasing drastically with our aging population.

I am passionate about family caregiving needs.  Why?  Because over 25 years ago, I became a family caregiver myself.  With zero preparation and knowledge, little did I know that for the next 15 years I would be identified as a family caregiver for my aging parents.  But 25 year ago I didn’t identify as a caregiver for my parents.  I was raising my two young children for goodness sake!  I loved and respected my parents dearly so I was just doing what a loving child should do.  Little did I know the emotional, physical and spiritual challenges that comes with caring for an aging parent.  Would I trade  that time?  Absolutely not!  Did it make me a passionate advocate for anyone sharing the journey that I walked?  You bet.

I’m going to be very frank in saying that in the 25+ years that I have personally and professionally been in the family caregiving space, we have made some strides.  Not fast enough to keep up with demands.  We still have lots of work to do to include families to actively and  intentionally include them as part of the care team.

A new study lead by Jo-Ana Chase, assistant professor in the University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing, interviewed family caregivers of old adults who received home health care after a hospitalization to better understand caregiver’s experience regarding training and support.

She found that most family caregivers receive little formal training, and these caregivers need home health care providers to proactively engage them in planning and decision-making for more effective, coordinated care.

“Caregivers want to know how best to care for their loved ones, but they often feel like they are learning on their own,” Chase says.

As stakeholders across the spectrum of care, we will all see better outcomes by including families as a integral member of the care team.  But we must do so intentionally.  Are we including in our staff training the needs of families?  There are many complex issues that family caregivers face, and if staff do not understand their challenges, then they certainly cannot be expected to help them find solutions.

The weaknesses in our healthcare system have been made abundantly clear with the events of COVID-19.  At the same time, we have many opportunities to take from these lessons and make our organizations better.  This is the time that leaders must take a hard look at how effectively they are training and supporting their staff AND families.  Without both of these working together, we’ll continue to struggle in providing the quality of care that our older adults deserve.

Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute, a global company dedicated to quality aging and dementia care training.   AGE-u-cate’s latest initiative, REVEAL Aging Workforce training includes in all of it’s courses, staff training on the needs of families.  Pam may be reached at pam@AGEucate.com

 

 

#KnowMorePD – Elevating Awareness of Parkinson’s Disease

April marks Parkinson’s Awareness Month and the theme the Parkinson’s Foundation has chosen is #KnowMorePD to help elevate the public’s awareness of the disease and to share the resources available to those who are diagnosed with PD and their families

Parkinsons’s Disease (PD) is a complex movement disorder with symptoms that vary from person to person.  Some of these symptoms may include tremors, slurred speech,  a masked face, slow movement, and unsteady gait.  Because PD is largely misunderstood  by the general public and even healthcare professionals, it’s often frightening to see a person struggle with these symptoms.  And when people don’t understand what is happening, they generally react by becoming fearful or avoiding that person.

My mother’s journey with PD was one that she would often describe as life on a roller coaster.  One day, she would feel energetic and would go about her activities with ease, and the next day, exhaustion would overtake her, making the simplest tasks a monumental feet.

Along with the physical symptoms that others would see (and not understand), such as slowness of movement and unsteady gait, PD can wreak havoc on the inside.  My mother, like others  living with PD often struggled with depression, ill side effects from medications that are constantly in need of adjustment, and feeling self-conscious for unexplained  physical movements.  While PD can be managed with medications, it is a disease that progresses, so living with the unknown of what will happen to body and mind can lead to a constant fear of tomorrow.

As her caregiver, I too felt her emotions, because that is what caregivers do – take on the emotions of those they love.  So that ‘roller coaster’ was a ride we both shared.  It’s so very important for persons who are diagnosed with PD to seek education, resources and support – for themselves and their care partners and families.  With education comes empowerment, and with support comes the community of others to help with knowing you are not alone.

While there is so much advancement being done to treat PD and research that will hopefully lead to cure, we must also focus our efforts on elevating our awareness, education, resources and support for this mysterious and challenging disease.   Please support the work of the many national organizations who are working tirelessly to bring an end to PD, and to your local chapters and community organizations who help bring awareness and education to people like my mom and me who journeyed together in living with Parkinson’s Disease.

#KnowMorePD

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute, a global organization dedicated to supporting aging services providers with caregiver training to improve the quality of life for older adults.

 

 

 

 

REVEAL Aging: The New Generation of Workforce Education

The Aging Services Industry faces a triple-whammy when it comes to workforce turnover and retention.

The first hit is the massive turnover that occurred and continues to occur because of the pandemic.   Second,  the turnover is on top of existing unfillable vacant positions.  Thirdly, there are new entrants into the field who have no prior experience caring for older adults.

We don’t want just warm bodies.  Yet, providers had to scurry and pull from every corner to get to bare staffing requirements.  Now, providers hang on hope that the good employees will not jump ship as the pandemic fades.  What are we to do about this massive issue?

Much of the focus will continue to  be on recruiting new employees, and rightly so.  However, great attention needs to be given to how to keep the new, good employees.  At the same time, it is critical to also maintain the spirit and engagement of the seasoned employees.

Recruitment and Retention:  Hand in Hand

I’m going to add a fourth whammy, and it is the scarcity of available time for employee training and education.

Time- nobody has it.  Not the Administrator, Director of Nursing or Human Resources Director.  So, how can we provide meaningful, affordable, and time-efficient education for employees?

While providers were on the front lines scraping for survival, AGE-u-cate Training Institute tackled these foreseeable  issues and developed a responsive and feasible employee education strategy.

Pam Brandon, AGE-u-cate’s Founder and President has unveiled REVEAL Aging:  The next generation of aging services employee education and training delivery that works.

The REVEAL Aging content focuses on improving quality of life and quality of care.  Each device friendly course consists of micro-learning segments of approximately ten minutes each.

This method provides on the spot learning that boosts engagement, closes skills gaps and fosters practical applications in the workplace.  Furthermore, content is compatible on smart phones, I-Pads and desk tops, making it accessible for all employees.

“The content gets to the core of what it takes to understand the aging process, and promote quality of life.  The topics are universal for all departments.  It is important that everyone working with older adults possess a deep understanding and elevate empathy.”  Pam Brandon, President, Founder AGE-u-cate Training Institute.

Learn more about REVEAL Aging in this 30-minute webinar, and by visiting the AGE-u-cate website.

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is  the Director of Grants and Consulting Projects and a Certified Master Trainer with AGE-u-cate Training Institute. In addition, she is an instructor and of Gerontology and Leadership in Aging Services at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.