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Rural Kansas R3 Project Summary:

This project, called the Rural Kansas R3 Project, focuses on recruiting, retraining/training, and retaining direct care employees in the southeastern portion of Kansas. According to the National Clearinghouse on the Direct Care Workforce, in 2000 Kansas had 13.3% citizens over age 65 representing a 4% increase over 1990 Census data. It is estimated that by 2030, Kansas’ elder population will increase 66.5%. During the same time period, the traditional direct caregiver (women aged 25 to 44) will decrease 9.2%. The population is aging and the number of traditional direct caregivers is declining and turning over at an alarming rate. In 2000, the Kansas Healthcare Association survey indicated a vacancy rate for Kansas certified nurse aides (CNAs) at 7.8% and the turnover rate was over 99%. The Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (KAHSA) members cite nurse aide turnover as the most significant threat to quality care.

Twenty-nine (29) key partners from across the region have joined to create this proposal.
Completeness of the Partnership: Partners in the project recognize the severe shortage of long-term care workers in the region and are working jointly to increase the quantity and quality of direct care workers. Regional leaders including superintendents of local school districts, administrators of long-term care facilities, Workforce Investment Boards, local One-Stop/Workforce Center managers, health care advocacy groups (Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and Kansas Healthcare Association), registered apprenticeship program coordinators, Area Agency on Aging managers, local ministers, and community college administrators joined together to create this proposal to remedy the shortage of long-term care workers in the identified region.

Recruiting strategies: The traditional labor pool for long-term care workers is a female between the age of 25 and 44. This project focuses on recruiting two new labor pool populations, high school students and retired senior citizens. NCCC and local school districts have reached articulation agreements providing a career preparation pathway for students to follow upon entering high school. The first training program will be the paid nutrition assistant course, which is approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to provide skills direct care workers need to safely and effectively feed residents. Other courses to follow include: certified nurse aide, certified medication aide, certified home health aide, medical terminology and standard first aid. Because of partnerships with school districts, these courses will be taught during the traditional school day, thus allowing the student to work in the field during evenings and weekends. Coordination and instruction of the high school health occupations curriculum will be done by two individuals employed initially by the High Growth Job Training Initiative and later absorbed into the operational budgets of the school districts and college budgets. Through assistance from the Area Agency on Aging’s (AAA) Older Kansans Employment Program (OKEP) qualified, reliable workers over the age of 55 are available to area employers needing part or full-time employees. This population will be recruited and retrained to become paid nutrition assistants. This initiative serves two purposes, recruiting new workers into the industry and to assist with retaining existing nurse aides. The career pathways available in this project allow students to achieve numerous certifications resulting immediate entry into the workforce. At all points of retraining/training, focus will be given to developing soft skills. Nurse aide retraining/training is the center of many career pathways. Students will learn career ladders available to them in healthcare such as advancement into licensed practical nursing and/or registered nursing. To expand this capacity, this project will employ two full-time health occupations coordinators (HOC) to teach direct care courses in the high schools. Another barrier to expanding direct care courses in rural Kansas has been the lack of laboratory space (classrooms with hospital beds and equipment) for students to practice required competencies. To remedy the lack of laboratory space, a full-equipped mobile laboratory will be purchased to move from location to location as training needs dictate.

The strategies for Retaining employees consist of numerous techniques including: early exposure to careers in direct long-term care; early training in high school; early entry into the profession as paid-nutrition assistants and certified nurse aides; and incorporating senior mentors and a registered apprenticeship program. The following outcomes have been identified.


1. RECRUITING 20 middle school visit/year
20 high school visits/year
 5 visits to Area Agency Aging/year
 20 visits with WIA Agencies/year

2. RETRAINING/TRAINING - by end of project
 100% increase in home health aides
 25% increase in nurse aides
 25% increase in LPN/RN enrollment
 Train 30 certified paid nutrition assistants
 5% increase in nurse aides certified

 Positive placement of 80% completers
 Retention rate of 60%
Average earnings increase of 5% from starting wage for nurse aides

 Continue project beyond federal funding period

The Rural Kansas R3 Project requests $495,600 in funding and provides $152,214 in matching resources. Neosho County Community College will serve as fiscal agent and grant management for this project. NCCC is in a unique position and relationship with other partners to coordination activities within the scope of this project. NCCC has vast experience administering federal grant programs. NCCC currently administers four (4) federal grants totaling over $880,500/year. These grants include Educational Talent Search, Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and GEAR UP. Additionally, NCCC administers over $483,715/year in state and local grants including Adult Basic Education, Carl D. Perkins, Nontraditional Initiatives, and the Kansas Nursing Initiatives.
Through the established partnerships and collective resources, the partners in the region will have significant impact on reducing the shortage of direct long-term care workers.

March 2008 Rotary Meeting - Power Point Presentation on the R3 Project [ppt]

Mentoring [ppt]

Caregiver Education [ppt]