Friday, September 28, 2012

Group Urges 'Strong Federal Guidance' On Training For Personal Care Aides

Group Urges 'Strong Federal Guidance' On Training For Personal Care Aides
States will need “strong federal guidance” on the training and supervision of personal care aides (PCAs), as well as permission to reimburse those aides from Medicaid, the Washington, D.C.-based PHI PolicyWorks said in a new study of the burgeoning PCA industry.

Eleven states have no minimum requirements for training and supervising the aides, and another 12 have limited regulations, PHI PolicyWorks said in its study, released late Tuesday.

About 1.5 million American workers are engaged as personal care aides, PHI said. It’s the fastest growing workforce in the United States, and the ranks of PCAs is expected to grow by 70 percent by 2020, PHI said.

PHI, which advocates for higher wages and standards of direct-care workers, said that the largely unregulated PCA workforce will need some oversight as the nation ages.

“There are no federal training standards for PCAs, as there are for home health aides and certified nurse aides [CNAs] employed by Medicare-certified agencies,” the group said in a news release announcing its findings. “Both of these occupations—which require many of the same skills as PCAs—require 75 hours of pre-employment training.”

PHI PolicyWorks’ findings drew a warm endorsement from Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chair of the Special Committee on Aging. “We are facing severe shortages of health care workers who are adequately trained and prepared to care for older and disabled Americans,” Kohl said in a statement through PHI.

“As we work to meet this critical need, we must build on the successes of the direct-care worker demonstration projects that were enacted as part of the health care reforms in order to help begin developing uniform training standards for personal and home care aides. In order to achieve our goal of allowing older and disabled Americans to live as independently as possible, we must have a well-trained workforce.”

PHI researchers found that: 
• Thirty-five percent  of states have a requirement for training hours;
• Just 22 percent of states have a state-sponsored PCA curriculum;
• Only 35 percent of states require an exam; and
• Only 18 percent of states require PCA certification.  

The group urged Washington lawmakers and regulators to come up with “comprehensive” training standards for aides, a “credentialing process that ensures that PCA training articulates with federal training standards” for home health aides and CNAs.

PHI also called for what it called a “training infrastructure that offers accessible, learner-centered teaching, which is effective for adults with multiple learning barriers.”

For more information on the study, go to:  

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