Over the next few years, hundreds of thousands of home care workers will be needed to meet demand.
In order to meet that demand in the Badger State, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and state health officials are hoping to certify 10,000 new home care aides through a new online certification program.
The program includes a $500 bonus for individuals who become certified and remain employed for six months.
“The foundation of an individual’s career in health care is getting them credentialed,” Margie Reichwald, director of the UW-Green Bay Division of Continuing Education, told HHCN. “Our goal with this program is to get them credentialed so they can advance into new roles and have it be a ladder of learning. And, also, to keep good care workers in health care.”
While demand for home-based care has never been higher, providers are constantly looking for new workers. That’s due to a lot of factors: reimbursement rates, stale business models and a lack of education around home-based care, among others.
Still, states and providers have had to get creative in the way they recruit new home-based care workers. It’s imperative for patients and providers.
The program from UW-Green Bay and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is a free online training course that will take anywhere between 30 and 40 hours. Once completed, potential employees are then entered into an online registry where employers match caregivers with open positions.
In Wisconsin, a program like this couldn’t have come at a better time.
“By 2024, there’s going to be a caregiver shortage of 20,000 in Wisconsin,” Reichwald said. “We wanted to create something that was based on national standards and wanted to go above and beyond those. Then we asked ourselves if we could create something that really mastered the skills of a direct care professional.”
Funding from the one-time bonus comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The program itself, and the 14 competency areas, were built with feedback from home health and home care providers in the state.
The ultimate hope, Reichwald said, is for the Wisconsin program to act as a pilot – allowing it to eventually be scaled across the country.
“We really want to show other states how to go about this collaboratively,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily need to be with a university, but we believe highly in collaboration with anybody in your area of focus who has expertise because that’s how things get out and how the word gets spread. We really feel like this will be a national model going forward.”