Wisconsin Launches Caregiver Career Program

Innovative program to help recruit, train, and retain nurse aides

March 31, 2017

In an effort to attract and retain more nursing home caregivers, Wisconsin is launching an innovative program called the Caregiver Career Program. The Department of Health Services (DHS) has received federal approval to move forward with the more than $2.3 million investment to implement the Wisconsin Caregiver Career Program, designed to add up to 3,000 nurse aides to the workforce, in this high demand field.

"We recognize that Wisconsin needs committed caregivers for our state’s most vulnerable adults," said DHS Secretary Linda Seemeyer. "As our population ages, it becomes even more critical that we invest in our workforce so those served in nursing homes get the best quality of care."

DHS is developing the program in partnership with nursing homes, LeadingAge Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Health Care Association and the Wisconsin Technical College System. The program will offer training and testing at no cost to students and also implements a $500 retention bonus for nurse aides after six months on the job at a nursing home. The program will also include a marketing and recruitment plan to not only increase the number of people entering caregiver careers, but also increase awareness about the value of caregiving and the change caregivers can make in the lives of Wisconsin’s elders.

Nurse aides provide basic care for residents in nursing homes, performing duties from feeding to bathing to dressing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of nursing assistants will grow 17 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. This is largely due to aging baby boomers, which are increasing demand for patient care.

In Wisconsin, more than 87,000 residents live in long-term and residential care facilities. That’s an increase of 18 percent since 2003, yet one in seven caregiving staff positions is unfilled.

This story originally appeared in the March 31, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter