Apprentices

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college courses
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of on-the-job training

For those who were ready to enhance their career in aging services, the Health Support Specialist (HSS) Registered Apprenticeship program was a new opportunity for professional caregivers.

Courses were taught by experts in aging services, who were readily available to answer questions and provide support as people completed the program. Classes included instruction in culinary care, activities, memory care, environmental services, physiological and psychosocial care. Mentors at each organization also helped guide staff through 2,500 apprenticeship hours of on-the-job learning experiences.

One step at a time, online instruction and flexible hours allowed people to complete the program at their own pace while gaining new skills that could immediately apply to their work in caring for older adults.

Eligibility

  • 18 years or older
  • High school diploma/GED
  • Nursing Assistant, Registered
  • Support from employer

How Did it Work?

Apprentices began by enrolling in courses at Ridgewater College and were able to complete all seven courses and apprenticeship hours within one to two years.

  • 7 courses (9 credits) online instruction
  • 2,500 hours of on-the-job training
I think the HSS program is wonderful. I think if you commit to the program and the assignments, there is so much useful knowledge to be learned. The classes are college level, so expect to work hard, learn much and become an educated and enriched caregiver to our beloved residents.

– Amanda Gruber, Health Support Specialist – Three Links Care Center, Northfield, MN

Curriculum

Introduction to the Health Support Specialist – 3 credits

Oriented students to the role of the Health Support Specialist, focusing on the history of aging services, concepts of Culture Change and person-directed living

Meaningful Activities – 1 credit

Taught fundamental skills, knowledge and resources for engaging residents in meaningful activity programs during daily caregiving routines

Culinary Care – 1 credit

Provided students with basic culinary information to help them purchase, plan, prepare and deliver a nutritional and enjoyable diet for each resident

Environmental Services – 1 credit

Covered the fundamentals of providing a clean and safe environment, including housekeeping practices, laundering procedures and regulation compliance

Memory Care – 1 credit

Explored the aging process as it relates to memory loss and/or dementia-related diagnosis and introduces methods for involving the family in decisions that provide purposeful living for residents

Psychosocial Care – 1 credit

Examined the emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of holistic care as an HSS and how each can be influenced by transition and loss

Physiological Care – 1 credit

Introduced students to the basic body structure and function during the aging process, while identifying strategies for managing healthy aging and physiological alternations

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Read the full course descriptions and lists of work processes (apprenticeship hours) in the HSS Standards of Apprenticeship

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Course Instructors

Kerry Keenan

Muriel Kruggel

Julie Reginek

Psychosocial Care

Culinary Care
Environmental Services

Introduction to HSS
Meaningful Activities
Memory Care
Physiological Care

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