Perry Lutheran Homes open career advancement program

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DMACC Director Eddie Diaz, left, Perry Lutheran Homes LPN Araceli Chacon, center, and Marketing Director Mollie Clark discuss StepUp Career Advancement. Chacon is one of the first Perry Lutheran Homes employees to take advantage of the program, working to achieve her Registered Nurse (RN) degree. Photo courtesy Perry Lutheran Homes

The direct care workforce is expected to add 1.3 million more new jobs from 2018 to 2028, and more than 63,000 of those will be needed right here in Iowa, according to recent data from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute Inc. Yet long-term care communities across the state struggle to fill open positions.

Perry’s largest healthcare employer, the Perry Lutheran Homes, aims to change the future of long-term care in Perry and surrounding communities. One of those changes includes building their own stable, direct-care workforce of highly trained, qualified and committed nurses, nurse aides and other long-term care staff.

The goal is to ensure that every older adult in need of care is able to receive the best care possible.

“There’s a huge difference between providing basic care and providing personalized, high-quality care,” said Melissa Gannon, COO and administrator at Perry Lutheran Homes. “We don’t want employees to be here for just a paycheck. We look to hire and develop employees who desire to fully engage in what they are doing and have a genuine passion for providing the best care possible. In addition, education and experience are also important. If the passion and dedication is there, then we’ll support our team members in additional education and training.”

To build a highly trained and dedicated workforce is no simple feat. Because of this, the Perry Lutheran Homes has implemented a multi-pronged strategy to train and develop staff by offering career advancement pathways that include higher education, competitive pay and benefits and rewards for excellent performance and attitudes.

In early February, the Perry Lutheran Homes launched their StepUp Career Advancement Program. This is a pathway for employees of the Perry Lutheran Homes working in any career field to earn certifications and degrees through promotion, higher education and tuition reimbursement.

In return for the paid tuition, employees commit to work a certain amount of agreed-upon time. A partnership with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) has been established to be the educational institution of choice for the career advancement program.

“Tuition reimbursement programs are a costly commitment for employers; even more so for not-for-profit organizations like Perry Lutheran Homes,” said Eddie Diaz, director of the DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy. “This program speaks volumes about their efforts to invest in their employees, and we at DMACC are proud to partner with Perry Lutheran Homes in growing and developing local community members into healthcare leaders of today and tomorrow. Perry Lutheran Homes Career Advancement Program is a huge benefit for employees to have their schooling paid for as well as to have job security once schooling is complete.”

The Perry Lutheran Homes offers a wide variety of careers in addition to nursing, such as culinary, activities, transportation, housekeeping, business, marketing, social work, maintenance, technology and more.

Any person who works for Perry Lutheran Homes for at least six months, demonstrating the right qualities and meeting the qualifying criteria, has the opportunity to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) through the StepUp Career Advancement Program.

Employees can then progress to a certified medication aide (CMA), a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). From there, additional advancement opportunities could include assistant director of nursing, director of nursing, nurse manager, administration and more.

“As a former Perry Lutheran Homes board member and currently on the executive committee for Perry Economic Development, I know how incredibly important it is to our community to have the best long-term care organizations — including the highest quality workforce,” said Deb Lucht, CEO of Minburn Communications. “All of this works together to strengthen our community, to provide a large number of high paying jobs and to ensure that all older adults will be well cared for when their need arises.”

To inquire about open positions and to start or continue your journey of career advancement, visit the Perry Lutheran Homes website.

Perry Lutheran Homes is your locally owned and managed, Christian Caring Community serving Perry and surrounding communities for 65 years. Perry Lutheran Homes offers innovative, personalized, Christ-centered living and care at three campuses in Perry, IA – Spring Valley Campus, King’s Garden’s Campus and Eden Acres Campus. Services include independent and assisted living, award-winning memory care, in-home care, respite care, skilled nursing care, rehabilitative therapy, intermediate and long-term care, end-of-life care and meals on wheels.

Mollie Clark is the marketing director for the Perry Lutheran Homes.

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