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Penn State prepares personal care home administrators for their role

8/24/2009 —

Pennsylvania ranks fourth in its population of residents 85-years-old and older — a population projected to increase by 52 percent by 2020. Some of these residents will need help and will move into one of the state's 1,500 licensed personal care homes and assisted living facilities, where more than 50,000 elderly and disabled residents currently reside. To ensure their well-being, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), which inspects and licenses these facilities, has partnered with higher education institutions and other agencies to educate and train personal care home administrators and staff. Penn State Beaver has offered the 100-hour Personal Care Home Administrator Training program since 2006. This fall, the program is being expanded to Penn State DuBois and Penn State Greater Allegheny.

"The training is standardized, consistent and rigorous," said Marian Vendemia, Penn State Beaver director of Continuing Education. "It is designed to ensure that residents of these facilities have a good quality of life. This is a critical societal issue that Penn State is ideally suited to help address through its statewide campus system."

DPW invited Penn State Beaver to be a training provider shortly after new training regulations went into effect. Vendemia rounded up experts in health care and the law and offered the first program in spring 2006. Since then, 272 personal care home administrators and other health care professionals have completed the training.

This fall, Penn State DuBois and Penn State Greater Allegheny will offer the program. Jeannine Hanes, Penn State DuBois continuing education representative, explained that Penn State DuBois wants to offer the program to help more than 40 personal care and long-term care facilities in its region attend training close to home. "This program fits in well with our other health care programs. We work closely with our long-term care facilities to assess their education and training needs and arrange for appropriate programs," Hanes said.

According to Kimberly C. Black, director of Training for DPW's Adult Residential Licensing program, "Personal care homes serve vulnerable adults that require personal care services. Without appropriate training, personal care home administrators cannot keep up with current trends and issues related to the individuals they serve." DPW increased training requirements for personal care home administrators and staff in 2005. Black said, "Training improves the knowledge base of the individual, which improves services provided to residents."

Personal Care Home Administrator Training covers 19 topics ranging from resident rights to laws and regulations, fire prevention and emergency preparedness, and budgeting issues. To become an administrator, individuals must complete the training and pass a test developed for DPW by a Penn State team. Led by Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D., professor of intergenerational programs and aging, and Richard Fiene, Ph.D., associate professor of human development and family studies, a group of Penn State Extension, College of Education and College of Health and Human Development faculty and staff created the online test.

"By passing a competency-based test that reflects what they have learned, administrators are better-prepared to ensure the quality of care for residents. It's all about the quality of life of the resident," said Kaplan, adding, "and this, in turn, contributes to the sense of comfort and reassurance that families throughout the Commonwealth can have in terms of knowing that their loved ones are well cared for."

Personal care homes and assisted living facilities provide shelter, meals, supervision and assistance with personal care tasks for people who need assistance, but do not require nursing home or medical care.

George Knox, who with his sister Nancy Simmons, an RN, has owned and operated Trinity Oaks Care Centers in Ellwood City and Beaver, Pa., since 1979, uses Penn State Beaver for all training for himself and his staff of 32. "The programs are cogent, appropriate and timely," Knox said. "Penn State Beaver offers programs that are extremely appropriate for what we do." After a recent fire prevention program, Knox incorporated new fire safety measures in his facilities.

For more information about this training program, contact: Penn State Beaver Continuing Education (CE), (724) 773-3700, br-continuinged@psu.edu; Penn State DuBois CE, (814) 375-4836 or (814) 372-3005, jhanes@psu.edu; and Penn State Greater Allegheny CE, (412)-675-9058, juj117@psu.edu.

Penn State Continuing Education is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education, serving more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide.

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