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JFS Back to School

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The first graduating class of JFS' reenvisioned East End PCA school.

By Morgan Goad

Associate Director of Development, Jewish Family Services

Fall is here and school is back in session – including JFS’ Personal Care Aide (PCA) training program!

Personal Care Aides are the foundation of our in-home care services. Without them, elders and adults with disabilities wouldn’t be able to bathe, dress, eat well, or do the daily tasks many of us take for granted.

Richmond will be home to nearly 70,000 more seniors by 2040, and most will need help to age at home safely:  70% of adults older than 65 have two or more chronic conditions that require complex care. Virginia will need to hire 10,000 new PCAs every year for the next decade to meet demand.

PCA Instructor (left) Penny Amos with one of the first graduates of JFS’ Hybrid PCA training.

JFS began training PCAs in our West End offices in 2017. Then, with a gift from a visionary donor, we expanded to offer the course at East End locations, for East End residents, with the goal of matching the new PCAs with elders in their own communities who need care.

We hosted several highly successful classes in the East End – including one that graduated in February 2020, just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began. As JFS and the rest of the world grappled with COVID, our PCA school went on hiatus.

A year passed, but PCA school was never far from our minds – especially as the waiting list of seniors with Medicaid insurance in need of in-home care began to grow. A local donor offered to help restart our PCA training program.

We went back to the drawing board to re-envision our PCA training program for a world transformed by COVID. We proposed a “hybrid” model, where participants would learn from videos at home in order to have fewer, but more focused, in-person classes.

We began searching for the perfect instructor and a new space to host classes in the East End again. When we received a gift from a foundation, it was official: the COVID hiatus was over, and JFS’ Personal Care Aide training program would begin again!

We are proud to report that the new and improved PCA school is well underway and growing! We’ve hired a dedicated nurse who is thrilled to pass on her knowledge to a new generation of caregivers.

Nineteen participants have earned their PCA certification so far and have come to work for JFS as In-Home Care Aides. Several have already earned rave reviews from their clients!

We partnered with the Boys & Girls Club to offer PCA classes for East End residents in their beautiful new Teen Center in the East End. Thanks to their hospitality, this year we will be able to offer four PCA classes in the East End – a goal we’ve long dreamed of accomplishing!

We have also partnered with Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building to offer workforce development training throughout PCA school.

JFS’ Personal Care Aide training program is a pure expression of our guiding value of Tikkun Olam. Every PCA we train takes their first step toward a career in healthcare that can support their families. Every PCA makes a remarkable difference in the lives of the elders they care for.

We are profoundly grateful for the support of the donors who believed in the program!

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a Personal Care Aide? Reach out to Penny Amos at (804) 929-5483 or pamos@jfsrichmond.org to learn more!

Jewish Family Services is supported, in part, by a generous annual contribution and programming grants from the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.

 

 

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