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Iowa Direct-Care Workers May Require License

March 8, 2012

Iowa state capitol building

Direct-care workers in Iowa will be required to obtain a license to be a caregiver if a bill making its way through the state legislature becomes law.

The bill would affect direct-care workers in nursing homes as well as those in home care, assisted living, and community-based settings, according to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

The bill has already been approved by a state Senate committee, and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate. If approved, it will move to the state House.

At 70,000 strong, direct-care workers comprise Iowa’s largest workforce, with an additional 12,000 estimated to be needed to meet the rising demand for care in the next decade.

Legislation Draws Support

If passed, the legislation would establish state standards for direct-care worker training and licensing. It would also establish career pathways for specialized and advanced aide positions, reports the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Many of those changes would be overseen by a newly created Board of Direct Care Professionals, said Di Findley of the Iowa Caregivers Association, which supports the bill.

Findley, along with Kent Sovern of AARP Iowa and Rob Denson of Des Moines Area Community College, argued that the legislation is crucial to reducing turnover and raising quality of care across the board in an editorial published in the March 1 Des Moines Register.

Major System Change

“We’re really talking about a major system change” if the bill passes, Findley told PHI. In the new system, direct-care workers of all types “would receive more consistent and standardized education that would follow them from one setting to another,” Findley added. Workers, not their employers, would own their own credentials under the terms of the bill.

The legislation would allow direct-care workers to receive their education through a variety of venues, including community colleges, universities, employers, and online training courses.

Direct-care workers will also have the option to specialize in areas of interest such as Alzheimer’s, brain injury, mental health, oral health, and end-of-life care.

All of these factors would empower direct-care workers, Findley said, allowing them to “feel better prepared to perform their responsibilities.”

If the bill passes, direct-care workers “will finally receive the professional status they have long deserved,” Findley said.

— by Matthew Ozga

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