Northampton's " Interactive Prime Time Caregiver Program" will enable "boomers" to earn highly marketable health care certifications through a 100-hour course which combines lecture, state of the art nursing and computer labs, clinical experience, and distance learning strategies.
"This is a good time for older adults to train for the important public-service jobs of today and tomorrow," says Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation, "We commend these community colleges for having the foresight to offer training that matches the experience of older adults with new skill sets."
To date, Civic Ventures and MetLife have partnered to award a total of 25 grants to a diverse group of community colleges nationwide through its Encore College Initiative The seven 2010 grants awarded this year went to the Community College of the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), Florida State College at Jacksonville, Middlesex Community College (Bedford, Mass.), Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, Polk State College (Winter Haven, Fla.), Westchester Community College (Valhalla, N.Y.), and to Northampton.
The need for direct care workers to serve the aging population continues to be a growing concern in the Lehigh Valley. Nearly 15% of Pennsylvania's residents are considered "elderly," making the state's population among the oldest in the nation. Even with an average unemployment rate in the Lehigh Valley of 9.6%, home health aides, nurse aides, residential, personal, and home care aides continue to be listed on the High Demand Occupation List. This shortage in home healthcare services is expected to become even more dire as the population continues to age.
"Training "encore" workers to provide this direct care can help alleviate these shortages while providing some much-needed supplementary income to older workers," says Judith Rex, director of Northampton Community College's Center for Healthcare Education. Rex notes that three components of the program were added specifically to address "Boomer" concerns: ergonomics, computer skills and customer service.
Sixty individuals will be able to take advantage of the free program. To qualify, they must be at least 50 years of age, attend an information session, and complete a physical examination, a 2-step TB test and a Pennsylvania criminal background check. They must also have medical insurance.