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Upgrading the workforce Extra education boosts employee professionalism By John Andrews D espite its long-held reputation as a work- place of last resort for job seekers that only offers low-wage, low-skill positions, the long-term care field is actually a dynamic educational environment for employees. And as the sector’s labor needs continue to mushroom alongside the aging population, so should training and advance- ment opportunities, career specialists say. Job creation in long-term care is expected to con- tinue climbing as the elderly population expands each year. Over the past decade, the American Health Care Association estimates the number of long-term care jobs has risen by a steady 26% in America’s nursing homes and a whopping 67% in assisted living communities. “A growing need for jobs will undoubtedly lead to more educational opportunities, career growth and skill specialization development,” said Katherine Lehman, AHCA manager of public affairs. “As long-term care attracts individuals with a diverse set of skills and education levels, facilities must strive to ensure that there are educational opportunities available for all rungs of the career ladder.” Training programs for direct care workers, leader- ship development and career ladder training are all initiatives that foster the growth and development of the diverse long term care workforce, Lehman said. “Long-term care professionals should also focus on the ever-evolving options for care and treatment of more acute care and in the intricacies of caring for Alzheimer’s and rehabilitation patients,” she said. “There is also a great need for more specific training in geriatrics, especially attracting younger and newer nurses and nurse aides to this vital field.” 6 CareerGuide • McKnight’s Strategies However, Diane Heasley, RN, vice president of clinical services for Paterson, NJ-based DermaRite “Increasing City, OR-based aQuire Training Solutions. “This is vital for the emerging needs of more Industries, cautions that on-the-job education— the supply culturally diverse clients, as well as the recognition while necessary—cannot be the sole responsibility of qualified that many caregivers are from culturally diverse of the director of nursing. backgrounds,” she said “Bariatric care for obese “When I was a DON, I didn’t have time to go to nurses is residents is also an emerging area of study, especially the bathroom—how could I possibly be an effective key to the for caregiver-level training. W
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