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Arkansas Senators to Vote on Extending PCA Training Requirements

March 28, 2013

Arkansas state senators are expected to vote on April 1 on a bill that requires all personal care aides (PCAs) to have 40 hours of training as a condition of employment.

Currently, Arkansas requires only PCAs employed by agencies that serve clients in Medicaid-funded programs to complete 40 hours of training with a state-approved curriculum and a competency evaluation to be certified.  PCAs who provide services and supports through participant-directed programs are exempt.

Under Senate Bill 755, any person providing caregiving services and assistance with ADL’s and self-care in the home setting will have the same training requirements as PCAs who provides care to Medicaid recipients.  Immediate family members and several specific health professionals with greater training would be exempt.

“We believe strongly that this represents an important and progressive law which will ensure improved home care for older adults and disabled persons in Arkansas and support them and their families in their efforts to avoid unnecessary institutional long term care,” said Larry D. Wright, MD, AGSF, FACP, executive director at the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education, and associate professor at the Reynolds Department of Geriatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“It addresses an important workforce issue for aging Arkansans who currently have extremely limited access to trained caregivers. Our own work has documented that older Americans and their families presume that the workers they hire as home caregivers are trained — especially when they are hired through a private home care agency — even though in most states this is not the case,” said Wright.

Language in the bill states that it is intended to:

  • “Assure disabled citizens and the constantly expanding population of senior citizens in Arkansas that a direct-care worker is properly and consistently trained in core competencies and has a continuing education requirement for annual license renewal; and
  • “Acknowledge the necessity of proper training for all direct-care workers that, in turn, will contribute to a reduction in per capita health care costs for Arkansans.”

 Senate Bill 755 passed out of the Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee on March 27 with only a single dissenting vote.  It is expected to receive wide bipartisan support when the full Senate votes, according to Wright who testified at the committee hearing.

“We want to acknowledge the important work of PHI in pointing out the critical importance of a trained direct-care workforce,” Wright said.

For information on state-by-state training standards for PCAs, see Personal Care Aide Training Requirements by State on the PHI website.

— by Deane Beebe

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