Experts Urge National Caregiver Training Standards for Older Adults

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NEW YORK (May 12, 2008)”” The majority of Americans who hire in-home caregivers for their older adults believe they have received formal training, according to a national Harris Interactive survey. The truth: there are no national standards or requirements for professional in-home caregivers. As a result, a blue-ribbon panel of experts in aging and caregiving has recommended the creation of national training standards in a new report Developing National In-Home Caregiver Training Standards.

The report, published by The Caregiving Project for Older Americans, a joint venture of the International Longevity Center-USA (ILC-USA) and the Schmieding Center for Senior Health & Education (SCSHE), examines the growing need for curricula, accreditation, certification, career ladder, and support for in-home caregivers.

“We asked experts whether national standards for caregiver training and curricula were desirable and/or practical,” says Dr. Robert Butler, co-director of The Caregiving Project for Older Americans and president and CEO of the ILC-USA. “The consensus was a resounding yes and experts agreed the standards would provide some basic assurance of the quality of care received in the home.”

The report, based on contributions of experts and professional advisors who participated in a 2007 conference, outlines recommendations to develop innovative, affordable new approaches to train caregivers. Recommendations include:

1- Adopt the term Geriatric Home Caregiver (GHC) to denote a professionally trained caregiver of older adults in home settings.

2- Establish uniform national standards for training GHCs to be used by everyone who creates curricula.

3- Implement a process for accreditation of all training curricula for GHCs.

4- Develop a certification process for the GHC.

5- Set a standard for annual continuing education for GHCs.

6- Promote the creation of a career ladder that could further attract individuals to this work-force.

7- Facilitate the establishment of a national home caregivers organization.

Building on the recommendations of the Developing National In-Home Caregiver Training Standard report, The Caregiving Project for Older Americans gathered ten distinguished caregiving experts for a review of the caregiving curricula and training programs through the country at a consensus conference in Los Angeles last week. While the review was national in scope, special emphasis was placed on Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California, two of the most diverse and populous areas in the country. A consensus conference report will be published following the event.

Participants in the May 8 conference included Donna Benton, Ph.D., University of Southern California; Marie A. Bernard, M.D., University of Oklahoma, College of Medicine; Cordula Dick-Muehlke, Ph.D., Adult Day Services of Orange County; Kathleen Kelly, M.P.A.,Family Caregiver Alliance; Mary Ellen Kullman, M.P.H, Archstone Foundation; Vera Salter, Ph.D., National Clearinghouse on the Direct Care Workforce at the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute; Vicki Schmall, Ph.D., Executive Director of Aging Concerns; E. Percil Stanford, Ph.D., Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Monika White, Ph.D., WISE & Healthy Aging;and Beth Vaughan-Wrobel, EdD, RN, FAAN, Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education.

The Caregiving Project for Older Americans is made possible by the generous support of the Amgen Foundation, MetLife Foundation, Pfizer Inc, Schmieding Foundation, and UniHealth Foundation. To download the full report, Developing National In-Home Caregiver Training Standard, or purchase a hard copy visit www.ilcusa.org/publications.

About The Caregiving for Older Americans Project

The Caregiving Project for Older Americans is an action-oriented collaboration that aims to improve the nation’s caregiving work force through training, the establishment of standards, and the creation of a career ladder. A joint venture of the International Longevity Center-USA (ILC-USA) and the Schmieding Center for Senior Health & Education (SCSHE), the effort combines the talents of a policy research center with a clinical outpatient and health education program. To learn more about the project visit http://www.ilcusa.org/prj/caregiving.htm.

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