Posted: December 21, 2023
A few years back amid the COVID-19 pandemic, much like the leadership of many senior care communities and hospitals around the U.S., the team at Someren Glen noticed a diminishing of overall staff morale and perceived burnout. Across the nation, nurses and professional caregivers began leaving their roles in higher numbers than ever before as reported in a recent article published by the National Library of Medicine. Someren Glen was determined to find an innovative, sustainable way to recruit, train, and retain permanent care associates while subsequently improving job satisfaction and fulfillment within its current care team. Helping team members meet their professional goals felt like a win-win for everyone.
What resulted from a series of brainstorming sessions is a successful Personal Care Provider-to-Certified Nursing Assistant program, or PCP-to-CNA, that continues and inspires additional team members throughout our community still today.
When it comes to senior living communities, it is hard to overstate just how imperative the staff is in ensuring the community culture is strong and the residents are happy, fulfilled, and properly cared for.
As noted in a recent article by Life in Long Term Care, the number of people who are 85 years or older is expected to increase by 36% by 2025. The implications that come with the aging population are that more care communities will be necessary, hence, more personnel will be needed to staff them. Staffing is just the tip of the iceberg and as with any career path, encouraging staff to keep learning and pursuing their own professional goals can be challenging.
We see immense value in empowering the team members to reach and exceed their professional goals and have taken a unique approach to implementing professional development programs. After all, each day at Someren Glen provides residents with a full set of opportunities to engage, learn and thrive – why should the same not be encouraged for team members too?
Empowering staff to pursue their own professional goals not only benefits them in their own lives, but it improves the overall quality of life in the whole community. Some benefits include:
At Someren Glen, promoting professional development is more than just an in-service day or a box on a to-do list waiting to be checked off. Professional development at Someren Glen takes the form of a program that sets team members up for continuous educational and employment growth opportunities.
Someren Glen sought to recruit and hire Personal Care Providers (PCPs) to spend 4-6 weeks receiving experience, guidance, and training while paired with leadership and mentors on staff. Upon hiring, the PCP enrolled in a CNA school at the South Denver School of Nursing Arts for 4 weeks with tuition paid for by Someren Glen. During this time, the PCP maintains 8-12 hours of employment during school to continue learning, growing, and creating meaningful relationships in the community environment of Someren Glen.
Upon successful completion of the CNA courses and exam, the PCP transitions to a full-time licensed care associate.
A noteworthy example of this program in action was through the story of Sarah. Sarah had been working at Someren Glen in Life Enrichment for 5 years. When the PCP-to-CNA program became available, she jumped at the opportunity.
“Throughout the COVID pandemic, I was inspired watching the nursing team’s love, care, and compassion as they worked with residents,” Sarah said. “I felt as though the team, residents, and their family members became a true extended family as we banded together during lockdowns, state restrictions, and health fears. I decided that I wanted to take the next step in my career and provide direct care to residents and still be a part of this amazing Someren Glen family.”
After earning her CNA through this program, Sarah went on to pursue her LPN degree so she could transition to a nursing team member. Through the help of a scholarship from Christian Living Communities, made possible by generous donations to the Workforce Innovation Fund, she was able to complete her studies. Sarah’s fellow team members and residents cheered her on through the whole process and she passed her board exams this February. She is elated to have achieved this professional goal right here at Someren Glen and loves serving residents in our Long-Term Care neighborhood.
The success stories don’t end with Sarah.
Another example, is Bonnie Minter, who started at Someren Glen in housekeeping (environmental services) and was able to earn her CNA via this program to become a care provider in Assisted living.
Further, another participant, Ruth, had this to say about her experience:
“I am so blessed to have gotten such an amazing opportunity with Someren Glen! They helped me become successful by becoming a PCP first, and getting the experience to become a CNA which I have now accomplished! I have learned so many things about health care and our residents, and I am super excited to learn more so I can eventually become an LPN!”
This program set out with threefold goals: improve long-term financial solvency, provide consistent quality care, and improve morale among care staff. Since its inception, Someren Glen sees this program as an investment with valuable return: helping team members reach their professional goals ultimately improves their ability to serve residents, resulting in increased resident and team member satisfaction. The return on investment is evident in that Someren Glen was awarded the 2023 Pinnacle Customer Experience award for nursing care.
“It has always been a goal of mine to work in healthcare and learn new roles and skills within the field, Gabi, another satisfied participant in the PCP-to-CNA program, said. “I am so grateful that Someren Glen had this program because it allowed me to challenge myself and take on a new role as a CNA. Being a PCP allowed me to learn about the residents and the community, which helped me be more successful as a CNA.”
As of August 2023, there have been five participants who completed the program and are now CNAs at Someren Glen in long-term care (skilled nursing). There is also one participant currently working through the program.
Through mutual understanding, collaboration, and a genuine dedication to professional development, this program has benefited the lives of the participants, residents, and the entire Someren Glen community. Read more about this program on Denver Post’s YourHub.
Through our partnership with the University of Colorado College of Nursing, nursing students are also provided invaluable experience working with Someren Glen residents during their clinical rotations as part of the Geriatrics Program. This program opens doors for future nurses to explore careers in gerontology and experience the fulfillment and joys of working with older adults.
In July 2023, Someren Glen’s parent organization, Christian Living Communities, was awarded with Drive’s World’s Best Culture Certification. This prestigious distinction is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to creating an exceptional workplace culture that aligns with our organizational values. It is a true quality measure not only of Someren Glen, but of our entire senior living organization.
Our team members joined others from the nine CLC-Cappella communities, Rhythms Home Care, and our organizational support office in answering three questions about our personal values, the current culture in the workplace, and the desired workplace culture.
Our organization was one of only eight senior living organizations to receive this honor, joining some international, best-in-class companies. Learn more.