Home Health Care Training Programs Popping Up As Caregiver Crisis Worsens

In the midst of an increasingly dire caregiver crisis, 2019 has seen a number of labs and training programs launch for home-based care workers and nurses.

Among the latest is thanks to LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG), which teamed up with South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) to form a new home health lab that will expose college nursing students to the field. The lab — first announced at the end of August — will begin in spring 2020.

In terms of partners, there’s perhaps none better than the Lafayette, Louisiana-based LHC Group to launch a home health lab. The company has both a robust history and scale, as its 32,000 employees currently deliver home health, hospice, personal care and facility-based services to patients throughout 36 states.

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SLCC is a community college that serves more than 15,000 students annually and operates campuses in Abbeville, Crowley, Franklin, Houma, Lafayette, Morgan City, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville and Ville Platte in Louisiana.

As part of the partnership, SLCC has set up a lab that recreates the home, including a living room, bedroom and bathroom. The lab is on SLCC’s campus in Lafayette and will allow nursing students to immerse themselves in the home setting as part of their training.

The lab utilizes donated items such as beds, tables, chairs, walkers, nursing bags and clinical and personal items to set a stage for prospective home health workers. Additionally, LHC Group has provided medical equipment such as vital sign monitors and scales.

LHC Group’s role in the partnership came from a sense of duty the organization felt toward taking an active role in developing and supporting future talent within the industry, something that company leaders hope to see emulated elsewhere.

“We feel it’s important for industry leaders to continue supporting efforts to educate future nurses,” Angie Begnaud, chief clinical officer at LHC Group, told Home Health Care News. “That’s an opportunity that we saw in working with SLCC. It was a collaboration on a need that we find not only here in Louisiana but across the nation.”

LHC Group and SLCC collaborated on the development of the home health lab class, with leaders from the home health giant using their considerable industry expertise to weigh in. SLCC plans to integrate in-home health care classes into its existing RN and LPN program curriculums.

The home health lab class will teach students the history of home health nursing, patient care and holistic care, covering the unique challenges a nurse may encounter working in the home.

“They will be autonomous in the home,” Graci’Ana Breaux, RN-BC, skills lab and simulation coordinator at SLCC, told HHCN. “They have to be able to critically think, have clinical reasoning in order to know whether to call 911 or a physician, whether to send a patient to the hospital. Those are the types of questions a nurse would encounter in a patient’s home.”

For now, the class is only opened to SLCC nursing students, but the school is considering extending the course in the future, according to Breaux.

“We have talked about other collaborative endeavors, such as training home CNA’s and home health nurses in our off-months during the summer,” she said.

In some ways, the class falls in line with recent industry talk about elevating the home into a destination for nurses, who tend to prefer the hospital setting.

Another organization that has taken up this cause is Johns Hopkins, which created an opportunity for experienced nurses to re-imagine their careers by creating a Cross-Continuum Nurse Fellowship program, the first of its kind in Maryland.

The program trains nurses on becoming an expert on care in the home and then allows them to rotate between the home and an acute-care setting.

“Most of the education that nurses are getting is centered around acute-care,” Mary Gibbons Myers, president and CEO of Johns Hopkins Home Care Group and president of Home & Community-Based Services for Johns Hopkins Health System said, previously told HHCN. “We need to work with our academic scholars and try and change the curriculum to focus on the home and community — because that is where a patient is 99% of the time.”

On the home care side of things, an attempt to combat the industry’s record-high turnover rates which climbed to 82% last year, according to Home Care Pulse, has led to the creation of caregiver training programs as well.

In April, Catholic Health teamed up with the Cleveland Clinic, Ascension Michigan and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to create the Transformational Healthcare Readiness through Innovative Vocational Education (THRIVE) program.

The program will allow people who have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to train and become a caregiver.

The THRIVE program will be piloted across three states — Cleveland Clinic in northeast Ohio, Catholic Health in western New York and Ascension Michigan in southeast Michigan — over the next three.

Another program based out of the Stamford, Connecticut-based Building One Community’s Center for Immigrant Opportunity is also doing something similar.

The home health aide program places local immigrants in a six-month cohort that completes both an English language component and skills training course focused on home health care. The most recent cohort had 20 graduates.

“The home health aide program was started in 2016 after we [launched] a survey that asked, ‘What kinds of skills do workers need to learn and grow,’” Ivonne Zucco, the workforce development director at B1C, previously told HHCN. “[We] determined that workers wanted something that offered them a career path. We also found out that the surrounding area needed a lot of home care.”

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