Medical technology continues to advance and people are living longer than ever, and with this longevity comes expanded stages of specialized healthcare that span from pediatric to geriatric. New challenges are created and faced as the healthcare industry and society try to deal with an unprecedented population of people over the age of 65 and the unique healthcare needs of advanced age.
In spring 2014, the College of Liberal Studies began enrollment for the Bachelor of Arts in Lifespan Care Administration program to offer a comprehensive education for caregiving occupations and careers.
“Innovative thinking, creative solutions, and active citizenship have always been guiding principles for CLS and Lifespan Care fits those guidelines perfectly,” said Martha Banz, associate dean of CLS. “Meeting education gaps as society and the world develop is a primary function of the college and we’re thrilled to be leading the way with this new program.”
The Lifespan Care Administration degree program was designed from multiple perspectives for working adults and will give students employed, or looking for employment, in caregiving roles a formal education in this developing job field. Many of the topics covered are interdisciplinary and will have a wide range of applications, from entry level medical aides to facility administrators. The program will focus on the different stages of life and the required care each entails, beginning with pediatrics and ending with geriatrics. Students will also have the opportunity to individualize their areas of study with focus on the pediatric, adolescent, or geriatric lifestages as they progress through the program.
“It would benefit both the administration aspect and the quality of life for those receiving care. It would be a win for the administrators and a win for the caregiving staff and a win for those receiving care. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
An Evolving Industry
The caregiving industry is experiencing constantly evolving challenges, including increased regulation and civil liability for abuse cases. The standards of care continue to increase and often come with new laws attached; many organizations find themselves under elevated scrutiny from regulatory agencies or receiving negative notoriety for substandard care or abuse that has been discovered. This is an important aspect for administrators and directors to take into account when reviewing their workforce and standards. This is also an aspect that CLS administrators hope to address in the caregiving industry by offering an alternative to having only undertrained staff or staff whose education is not relevant. As the caregiving industry matures and expands, individual licensing and regulation is considered inevitable by many in the field and having an advanced education in caregiving would help in preparing for that outcome.
Raising the Standards
Unfortunately, caregiving facilities are not currently required to employ an educated staff and though the facilities would prefer employees with a degree, finding someone with a relevant advanced education is increasingly difficult. Professor Gene Walker, a primary author of the Lifespan Care curriculum, said that one of the great hopes in the Lifespan Care program is to help stop the abuse that happens to those requiring care. “Sadly, it’s well documented that all kinds of abuse take place, from sexual to physical,” said Dr. Walker. “We’re hoping that by offering a specialized education in caregiving, we will not only promote a better educated workforce but also increase the study in caregiving administration. It would benefit both the administration aspect and the quality of life for those receiving care. It would be a win for the administrators and a win for the caregiving staff and a win for those receiving care. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.