Penn State Expands Personal Care Home Administrator Training Program

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 has offered the 100-hour Personal Care Home Administrator Training program in the Pittsburgh area since 2006. Beginning this spring, the program is being expanded to Northeastern Pennsylvania, through the cooperative efforts of four campuses in the region.

"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, other Penn State campuses have joined the network of providers, and 272 personal care home administrators and other health care professionals have completed the training.

This spring, Penn State Schuylkill and Penn State Hazleton will offer the program, and Penn State Wilkes-Barre and Penn State Worthington Scranton will offer it this summer. Regional Continuing Education Director Ina Lubin explained that the four northeastern campuses want to offer the program to provide the more than 175 personal care facilities in their region with training options close to home. "We're constantly working to be able to offer programs at convenient locations, to meet the education and training needs of facilities in our area," Lubin said.

Jane Ashton, Penn State Wilkes-Barre's Director of Continuing Education, added, "This program is required for anyone aspiring to become a Personal Care Home Administrator and also satisfies continuing education requirements for current administrators.  Offering this training in our region allows us to actively contribute to the well-being of the residents in the personal care homes in our area."

"We're excited to be able to offer this kind of training right here in our own communities," said John Drake, director of continuing education at Penn State Worthington Scranton. "Having this course offered at our four local campuses will make it much more convenient, effective and cost efficient for local individuals interested in entering this field, or increasing their current knowledge level and skills." 

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, professor of intergenerational programs and aging, and Richard Fiene, 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.

For more information about this training program, contact: Penn State Hazleton Continuing Education (CE), 570-450-3576, [email protected]; Penn State Schuylkill CE, 570-385-6221, [email protected]; Penn State Wilkes-Barre CE, 570-675-9220, [email protected]; and Penn State Worthington Scranton CE, 570-963-2600, [email protected].

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.