W.Va. Agencies Collaborating to Increase Qualified Home Health Care Providers

Posted: July 11, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In a state with one of the nation’s oldest median population, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is teaming up with others to address a growing need for qualified home health care workers.

The WVDE’s Division of Career and Technical Education in partnership with the West Virginia Partnership for Elder Living, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services and other private and for-profit community health agencies have developed a competency based test for direct care workers who work in home and community settings.

Forty students from Cabell Midland High School, Putnam Career and Technical Center, Ralph R Willis Technical Center in Logan County, Tolsia High School in Wayne County, and Wyoming County Career and Technical Center are the first high school students in West Virginia to become certified direct care workers. 

“West Virginia will need more than 20,000 paid in-home care providers for elders by 2018,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. “Our state currently has about 5,000 direct care positions which cannot be filled because of a lack of qualified applicants. This is a void our career technical centers can help to fill, while also helping our students find gainful employment once they graduate from our schools."

Employment of direct care workers is expected to grow by 70 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. West Virginia will have more than 20 percent of its population over the age of 65 by 2020 – 10 years ahead of the rest of the country. Nine West Virginia counties have already met or exceeded that mark.

The direct care worker certification was developed by the West Virginia Direct Care Work Force Group, organized by the West Virginia Partnership for Elder Living, to establish a statewide standard for the knowledge and skills required to provide high-quality in-home care. This group also was charged with assisting in development of a West Virginia In-Home Care Registry. This registry will provide a way for residents to find in-home care workers and will require completion of a criminal background check prior to placement on the registry.  Strongly supported by AARP, the registry will eventually provide an online listing of in-home care providers and will include such information as education and training.

Direct care workers assist the elderly to live independently and with dignity by assisting with daily living activities at the client's home or in a health care facility. Duties performed at a place of residence may include housekeeping, such as making beds, doing laundry, washing dishes and preparing meals. Direct care workers also may provide assistance at non-residential care facilities, as well as work with families and the elderly client with such things as nutrition, cleanliness, keeping scheduled appointments and household activities.

Health Science Education instructors received professional development allowing them to provide this certification. Students then receive 50 hours of classroom theory and 50 hours of clinical application instruction through health science education programs at their respective schools.

For more information contact the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.

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