Michigan Research Team Launches Personal Care Aide Initiative

By Cean C. Eppelheimer | September 19, 2017

The population across the United States is aging rapidly, increasing the demand for high-quality, long-term services and supports. This demand is quickly outpacing the number of available care providers across the care continuum—and Michigan is no exception.

Michigan is facing a critical shortage of personal care assistants (PCAs) who are trained to deliver essential services that go beyond what family members provide: bathing, dressing, cooking, and transportation. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, and they require a range of services and supports, this already-strained workforce has the potential to buckle under the increased demand. The long-term field needs a stable, well-trained direct care workforce.

Complicating these challenges is the fact that there are no federal personal care assistant competencies or training requirements for PCAs, despite evidence that a stable, well-trained workforce results in higher satisfaction among workers and clients, as well as improved health outcomes for consumers.

A Michigan State University research team is confronting these challengers through the IMPART (Integrated Model for Personal Assistant Research and Training) initiative. With support from a 500K, two-year grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the IMPART team is led by Clare Luz, Ph.D., at the Department of Family Medicine within the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University.

Dr. Luz has assembled a highly diverse, statewide coalition of stakeholders—the IMPART Alliance—that will determine feasible strategies for ensuring a high-quality personal care assistant workforce, sufficient in numbers to meet demand. IMPART advisory board members include researchers, personal care aides, clients, and various agencies (including PHI) committed to the common goals of building, stabilizing, and supporting the personal care assistant workforce.

Over the next 18 months, the advisory board will focus on:

  1. Increasing the value placed on PCA work and the PCA profession by changing public perceptions through coalition work, recruiting and developing champions, and crafting a persuasive marketing campaign.
  2. Identifying a fuller range of financing mechanisms and sustainable business models for supporting PCA training and wrap-around services.

The IMPART work will build on the evidence-based PCA training program, “Building Training…. Building Quality (BTBQ).”  BTBQ is a 77-hour training curriculum for PCAs developed under a 2010 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the collaborative efforts of the Michigan Aging and Adult Services Agency, MSU’s Department of Family Practice within the College of Human Medicine, and PHI.

–By Cean Eppelheimer, PHI Midwest Organizational Change Consultant

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