healthcare workers
Engage Magazine Spring 2022

The Gateway-In Project ©

LeadingAge California’s Workforce Expansion Initiative

by Jeannee Parker Martin, President and CEO, LeadingAge California

Jeannee Parker Martin - From the CEOWhile we have known for decades there was a workforce crisis looming, COVID-19 exposed the frailties of our preparation for this crisis. LeadingAge California has taken a major step forward to help address and solve this critical problem.

In 2021, we launched our Workforce Blueprint for Action outlining our approach to bring 16,000 new workers over a 10-year period to our member settings – whether it be a Life Plan community, Senior Affordable Housing, PACE, Home Health, Hospice, Home and Community-Based alternatives or other member setting, whether the member is a single site or multi-site organization, and regardless of discipline. Our focus on leadership training and development has been honed over the past decade through our EMERGE Leadership Development Program, ongoing trainings through our On-Demand Learning Center, and our webinars, conferences and region meeting presentations have gone wider and deeper to reach the breadth of staff in your organization. We also launched our DEI Initiative with a focus on development of a DEI Roadmap to guide members through a process and provide myriad resources to help stand up DEI initiatives in member organizations.

Now, importantly, we are getting ready to launch The Gateway-In Project© to drive staff to clinical sites, like CNAs and HHAs, and later to go deeper with other disciplines to work in housing, care and services for older adults. The Gateway-In Project© is an expansive design to recruit, train, and support students to work in our field, including wrap-around services like childcare, ESL, and coaching to help assure success during critical training and transition to work.

During the State Budget process, for the first time in LeadingAge California’s history, we made three specific requests to the legislature and to the administration: The Gateway-In Project© to recruit, train and develop 2,700 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and home health aides (HHAs); The Gateway-In ‘Plus’ Project© to recruit, train and develop registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), and medical social workers (SWs); and The Gateway-In Workforce Campaign© to bring awareness about opportunities and the growing demand for workers to enter our field. Combined, these three projects will be transformative for our members, your residents, and LeadingAge California.

While there are various barriers for recruitment and retention of workers in housing, care and services for older adults, we have repeatedly heard that tuition, childcare, food insecurity, transportation, and English-language training are formidable barriers for potential candidates to enter training programs and for incumbent workers to advance in their career. To mitigate these barriers, The Gateway-In Project© and The Gateway-In ‘Plus’ Project© include full tuition reimbursement, and wrap-around services to support students during the training process. Additionally, to help retain new graduates’ post-certification and licensure, additional retention incentives are included for enhanced pathway training, length of employment post-graduation in settings caring for older adults, and coaching to support and engage new and incumbent workers more deeply. 

To accomplish the proposed projects, we have engaged in discussions with 14 existing training sites at universities, community colleges, technical schools, and member locations, with clinical sites to expand opportunities for interns and pre-certification and pre-licensure graduates, immigration and refugee centers, and research partners to help us understand the benefits and outcomes of the applied training and wrap-around services. We will continue to expand on partnerships once funding is received. 

LeadingAge California staff have been driven to make these bold requests in alignment with the key initiatives of our current Strategic Plan: Grow the Workforce, Elevate Public Awareness, Advance 21st Century Leadership & Education, Foster Innovation, and Lead Public Policy. 

We are hopeful these bold requests will be funded in the coming months and know they will be transformational to LeadingAge California members and those you serve.