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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nurse aide reviews revised

By Rob Perez
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

At a recertification class, Rhoda Agliam demonstrated on fellow certified nursing assistant Jerry Felicitas how she would assist a stroke patient paralyzed on the right side.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Francisco Redona thought the training was right on the mark.

A certified nurse aide, Redona joined about 30 other CNAs last week in the first classes of a new program designed to help caregivers in adult foster homes and care homes earn recertification.

"This is way better," said Redona, a Kapolei foster-home operator who went through the old-style program about two years ago. "It's easier for us to understand. And the instructors are approachable."

The state requires CNAs, the worker bees of Hawai'i's long-term-care system, to get recertified every two years.

But until this new program was developed, the recertification was geared mostly for CNAs working in nursing homes, hospitals and other institutional facilities.

Yet the job of providing care to seniors in small neighborhood residences, which hold roughly half the beds in Hawai'i's long-term-care system, presents different challenges, CNAs say.

One key difference between the old and new training programs is that the new one, called the Community Healthcare Advancement and Mentoring Program, is taught by multiple instructors, most of whom have experience working or dealing with foster or care homes, people involved in organizing the classes said.

The older program usually is taught by a single instructor, and some lack experience in working in community-based settings, CHAMP organizers said.

"I really like this new one," said Linda Guting, a care-home operator who was among those attending the first classes Monday at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu. "This is what I've been yearning for."

The two days of classes can be applied to the 24-hour continuing-education requirement for recertification. The classes last week covered everything from preventing and treating pressure sores to caring for a dying patient.

The new program also replaces the requirement of working for at least eight hours in a Medicare or Medicaid-certified setting, such as a nursing home, with one requiring that the work be done in a state-licensed or certified setting, such as a foster or care home.

As part of the new program, registered nurses who evaluate the competency of the CNAs are able to do the evaluations at the homes where the caregivers work, a change that is expected to benefit those who have difficulty breaking away from their caregiving jobs.

Another benefit: The costs linked with the new program are roughly half the tab for the older one, CHAMP organizers said.

Mila Medallon-Kaahanui, one of the organizers, said the older program presented so many challenges to community-based CNAs that some were considering leaving the profession.

"This was a big problem for them," Medallon-Kaahanui said of the obstacles.

With the emphasis on non-institutional caregiving, the new program is expected to help enhance the quality of care in foster and care homes, she said.

Last week's classes were taught by volunteers. Multiple organizations sponsored the program.

The CHAMP classes are expected to be held every other month, Medallon-Kaahanui said.