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What is HSS?

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The Health Support Specialist (HSS) Registered Apprenticeship program is a new career in the aging services field. Combining on-the-job training with online instruction, the HSS program trains apprentices in all areas of caring for older adults, including memory care, culinary, environmental services, meaningful activities, physiological and psychosocial care.

Through an enhanced on-site training model and relevant online curriculum, HSS trains students to be innovative and creative champions in their communities that enhance the experience of aging.

  • HSS organizations invest in their team members while providing the highest quality of care for people in their communities.
  • HSS apprentices learn how to best serve residents while building confidence in themselves and advancing their career in caregiving.

The Health Support Specialist model is transforming the way we serve older adults. It’s building leaders at the bedside, advancing careers in caregiving and breaking down institutional practices of the past.

HSS empowers direct care team members to take on more responsibility, become leaders in their organizations and take pride in their work.

How We Started

The Health Support Specialist program grew out of the need for a more skilled and more stable aging services workforce.

LeadingAge Minnesota, an association representing over 1,000 older adult service providers across Minnesota, was approached by leaders in the field who were in need of a new career—something that would help elevate the status of caregivers and address the increasingly complex needs of people they were serving.

After a national search for new models, conversations with providers, direct care leaders and faculty from the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, a new curriculum relevant and advantageous to both organizations and team members was created using an innovation grant from HealthForce Minnesota.

The Health Support Specialist Registered Apprenticeship program is preparing the aging services workforce for the future.

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By 2020, direct care workers will account for the largest occupational group in the U.S. By 2035, the number of people over the age of 65 will outnumber—for the first time in history—the population of school aged children in Minnesota.

– MN State Demographic Center

Who We Work With

The HSS program is a collaboration effort between several leading organizations:

MNSCU
MN Department of Human Services
U.S. Department of Labor
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Where We Are Today

In 2013, we graduated our first class of apprentices. Today, we have 18 organizations, 40 individual sponsor sites, and over 100 Health Support Specialists working with older adults.

Through the support of our partnership, we are working to elevate the status of caregivers in aging services, strengthen the quality of care for older adults and expand the HSS program across Minnesota.

Current Organizations

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Get Started

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Become an HSS apprentice.

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Become an HSS Site Sponsor.

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