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Ready to Prepare the Next Generation of Team Members? YEP!

The population of the Pittsburgh area is the second oldest in the United States and the fastest growing segment of our demographic is the 85+ age group. The year 2030 marks the year ALL baby boomers will be aged 65+ and oldest boomers turn 85. The facts are clear: Our region will need more entry-level workers in the aging services field.

Entry-level healthcare jobs, which include personal care assistants, nurse’s aides and home health aides, already are in high demand and will continue to be. So, how do we get our youth thinking about a career in long-term care?

“One way for Presbyterian SeniorCare Network to stay ahead of the curve and to start cultivating our future workforce is to connect with teens now in a meaningful way. That’s where the idea of the Youth Engagement Pathways, or the YEP! Program was born,” says Tanya Ulrich, vice-president of human resources at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network.

She continues, “We are hoping that by providing insightful intergenerational experiences, we may spark an interest in a career in long-term care. The program helps teens develop and hone particular skillsets, such as communication and problem-solving. These skills will make them an asset in the workforce.”

The YEP! Program launched in June 2018 and 24 youth, ages 13-16, were part of the inaugural class.

To be eligible for the YEP! Program, the teens submitted an application and were interviewed by a YEP! Coordinator; the teens also attended orientation. After orientation, the youth volunteers chose what department they wanted to volunteer in based on their interests. A majority of the YEP! volunteers provided support services in rehabilitation and lifestyle engagement. They helped with posting rehab schedules, transporting residents to and from appointments, participating in programming such as trivia, cookouts and outings, led programming that involved art as well as music, and more.

To ensure the volunteers were comfortable with their assignments, check-ins were conducted with each volunteer at two weeks, between four and six weeks and at the end of the program. The continuous feedback helped the program coordinators learn that the teens wanted more exposure to the nursing aspect of our business. As the program prepares for its second year, there will be more opportunities to shadow our nursing teams.

The YEP! Program concluded in August, and while the volunteers went back to school, some are still volunteering in the evening and on the weekends – what an enriching program for the youth and seniors alike!

To apply to be a volunteer in the YEP! Program, please visit www.SrCare.org/yep.

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