Wisconsin Looking To Add 3K Nurse Aides Through New Program

Caregiver Career Program Will Be Designed To Add Nurse Aides To Meet Growing Aging Population

Keith Srakocic/AP Photo

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will use federal funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to invest more than $2.3 million in a program designed to add 3,000 nurse aides to the workforce.

Otis Woods, administrator of the state Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance, said the new Caregiver Career Program will meet a growing need in the state.

“We have an aging elderly population, includ(ing) those that are being served in our nursing homes, and we want to be able to do the most we can to help those individuals receive the care and services they need, starting with more direct caregivers,” Woods said.

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The program will consist of three components:

  • Marketing and recruitment to increase the number of people in the field and increase awareness about the value of caregiving.
  • Training and testing for free at nursing homes and the state’s technical college system, and offering a $500 retention bonus for nurse aides after six months on the job at a nursing home.
  • Nursing home engagement to explore ways to make working at nursing homes more desirable for nurse aides, such as offering flexible work hours and educational opportunities.

In Wisconsin, 1 in 7 caregiving staff positions is vacant. By 2040, the state’s 65 and older population is expected to increase 10 percent, according to DHS data.

The next step for the program is to put together an implementation plan with DHS’ partners within the next few weeks to figure out how to attract more people to the field.

DHS is partnering with nonprofit nursing homes, LeadingAge Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Health Care Association and the Wisconsin Technical College System to develop the Caregiver Career Program.

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