Staywell Announces $45,000 in Scholarships Aimed at Improving the Shortage of Certified Nursing Assistants Serving Long-Term Care

Dec. 5, 2017 – Direct-care workers, such as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), are essential in helping elders and adults with disabilities who require long-term care to maintain function and quality of life. However, there is a shortage of these vital frontline healthcare workers.

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This is due to an aging population, with roughly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day. This trend is expected to continue for the next 19 years. By 2020, the healthcare industry will require 5 million direct-care workers to support the projected 117 million Americans needing assistance, making it the fastest growing occupation in the U.S.

Recognizing this significant workforce crisis and the impact on Florida’s aged and disabled population, Staywell Health Plan offered by WellCare of Florida, Inc., a WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) company dedicated to serving Medicaid members in Florida, has established a scholarship program to promote CNA training.

“If staff shortages among direct-care workers continue, it will become increasingly difficult to have adequate support for individuals who wish to age in place or remain in the community setting as they require more care and assistance with activities of daily living,” said Dr. Alan Smith, WellCare of Florida’s senior medical director. “In addition, quality in healthcare facilities could be impacted as research shows nursing homes with higher nursing aid turnover levels tend to have worse quality outcomes.”

The Staywell Way Scholarship Program for Certified Nursing Assistants in Long-Term Care will provide financial resources to encourage students to gain training and future employment in the field of long-term care. The scholarship program, offered through selected colleges and training centers across the state, will fund up to 44 scholarships valued at approximately $45,000. Each college and training center selected will receive two scholarships for the next two years. The scholarships will cover the entire cost of the training program and certification.

Sixteen scholarships are going to the American Red Cross Nurse Assistant Training Program. This nationally recognized program, which enrolls approximately 5,400 students annually, has recently averaged a 91 percent national graduation rate and a 93 percent state exam passage rate.

A primary benefit of the Staywell Way Scholarship Program is its workforce development potential. Several factors limit the earnings of low-income adults, among them include the lack of necessary skills and credentials and a lack of access to quality jobs that provide opportunities for advancement.

“I began my career as a nursing assistant while studying to become an RN and recognize the value of a program like this,” said Elizabeth Miller, president of Staywell. “A scholarship like this could be life-changing for the students who receive this assistance and can lead to a very meaningful career in healthcare.”

“My children get to see their mom helping people through my nurse assistant job, as well as providing for them. And they are excited and very proud of what I’ve accomplished,” said Chelle Ingram, a graduate of the Nurse Assistant Training Program and single mother of three children.

For more information or to apply for the Staywell Way Scholarship Program, contact the financial aid department at each college or training center below.

As of Sept. 30, 2017, Staywell serves approximately 757,000 Medicaid members, of which 65,000 members are in the Florida Healthy Kids program, 101,000 Medicare Advantage members, and 30,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members in Florida.

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