Carmel-based Senior1Care brought learning back to a Noblesville high school classroom this week to address a shortage of workers at nursing homes burdened by COVID-19.
The family-owned home health care provider with locations in Carmel, Mishawaka and Elkhart is working under a state emergency order to administer expedited personal care attendant training. The new designation for lower-level, non-clinical nursing home employees takes just eight hours to earn instead of the three weeks it can take to become a certified nursing assistant.
“We weren’t sure how people would react,” Patrick Broccolo, co-owner of Senior1Care, said. “The care you would provide, that’s personal care, and that’s not always comfortable for people. Then you throw in the COVID-19 scare, and we weren’t sure if people would come to the front lines.”
Broccolo didn’t have a target enrollment number in mind when he put together the free training program, but over 500 people have already reached out and more than 200 are registered for classes in Mishawaka and Noblesville.
Already, 16 personal care attendants have graduated since classes started in Noblesville on Monday. Broccolo expects the Mishawaka class will produce 85 more personal care attendants by week’s end.
Personal care attendants can assist residents in long-term care facilities with tasks like getting up in the morning and bathing and can serve them meals and take their temperature. Other facets of the training include dementia care, learning residents’ rights and COVID-19 infection prevention.
Broccolo pointed to several reports to demonstrate the need for a robust industry of capable long-term care professionals.
An IU Context Report developed by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University Kelley School of Business found 966,000 seniors called Indiana home in 2018, and that number is projected to grow by 46% by 2030.
Broccolo also pointed to a 2010 study by the AARP Public Policy Institute that shows there were seven potential caregivers aged 45-64 to care for each person 80 or older. The ratio changes to 4:1 by 2030, then 3:1 by 2050, as the population continues to age.
Those numbers will only be more strained, as caregivers for the vulnerable elder population grapple with self-isolation and other restrictions brought upon by the pandemic.
Senior1Care is offering the training through its Legacy CNA Training school at no cost. Graduates as young as 16 who meet the state’s standards for the position can get a job the same day. The program was established by the state on a temporary basis—currently through May 1—but there’s flexibility within its language for an extension.
Broccolo said that whether or not the emergency provision stays, individuals can build upon the 20 or so tested skills they learn in the personal-care class to eventually learn the around 70 technical abilities expected of a certified nursing assistant.
“They’re almost creating an apprenticeship type model as a resource,” Broccolo said. “We’re going to run it until we can’t.”