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Porchlight Partnership with STCC Yields Advances in Home Care

SPRINGFIELD — Holly Chaffee, president of Porchlight VNA/Home Care, and Sharon Grundel, director of Healthcare Training Development at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), presented to healthcare leaders at the Organization of Nurse Leaders Quarterly Educational Meeting at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. on March 10. The presentation detailed the partnership the two organizations developed in 2015 to bring an innovative approach to in-home, direct-care worker training, including the use of new technology.

The training program was made possible with a grant from the Training and Workforce Options (TWO) collaborative between STCC and Holyoke Community College and the Mass. Department of Higher Education’s Nursing and Allied Health Grant Initiative: Direct Care Workforce. The collaborative effort includes representatives of Porchlight VNA/Home Care, O’Connell Care at Home, Berkshire Healthcare Systems, and Wingate Healthcare.

The healthcare sector is critical to the Western Mass. economy as it generates 16% of the jobs and 19% of the annual payroll for the area. The grant ensures a well-prepared healthcare workforce by addressing the need to recruit, train, and retain entry-level home-care providers, which is a consistent economic hardship for home-care agencies. Collaborative partners receive up-to-date training for its workers through the grant at no cost while contributing in-kind resources and employee paid leave time.

As part of this, Porchlight committed to filling the designated number of training slots available and providing data to support grant objectives. Trainees were introduced to a number of new modalities, including a simulation lab and Alzheimer’s Assoc. habilitation curriculum to improve both technical and essential skills.

“I remain much more calm now with difficult clients,” one participant said in a testimonial. Another said, “simulation was the coolest! I learned so much, even though it intimidated me at first.”

Chaffee and Grundel meet regularly along with other key stakeholders to plan training and curriculum details and discuss the grant’s performance. To date, the partnership has sent a total of 15 incumbent direct-care workers through the program for an advanced level of training to boost skills for care at home. Trainees also successfully completed certification programs for home health aide and first aid and CPR.

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