New H-CAP Programs Give Home Care Workers the Tools to Change Lives
Adrianne Schmidt has a mission: using her work to bring more kindness into the world. Her H-CAP apprenticeship is helping her fulfill it. She is currently an Advanced Home Care Aide, working as an Independent Provider for children and adults with autism, and at an assisted living facility for seniors. As a result of her training, Adrianne has been able to work as a Medcare Manager, as well, taking care of the medications for residents—something she wouldn’t have been able to do without the additional training.
Adrianne has had an unusual career path. She has been both a model and the owner of her own hair salon (and lived in Hawaii and Costa Rica). When her grandmother started to get older, Adrianne decided to return to her roots in Washington State. She learned that an old high school friend had two children with autism; the older one was high-functioning, but the younger one needed more specialized attention. Adrianne—never afraid of a new challenge—enrolled in her first 30 hours of H-CAP training to become an Independent Provider to help care for the children.
But she was hooked on learning and wanted to do more. She decided to complete a 70-hour course of training to be certified as a Home Care Aide, and then another 70-hour course to be certified as an Advanced Home Care Aide. Through the Advanced course, Adrienne says, “I learned a lot more about managing behaviors and how to see the world—a little bit—through the eyes of a person with autism.”
Next up: H-CAP’s new national, industry-recognized apprenticeship certification for Advanced Home Care Aides, which would provide further training with a mentor, national certification and a supportive state-wide peer group. The program connects practitioners around the state (online). Adrianne described it as “part instruction and part support group.” The group shared best practices and practical strategies with each other, and those learnings are now being incorporated into the curriculum to share with future students. And even though Adrianne’s apprenticeship is done, she and other participants are always welcome to the group’s regular online sessions. That’s a way for H-CAP to create a state-wide, online hub for Advanced Home Care Aids to learn from and support each other, even beyond the official training period.
“With these sessions, everything started to click. This work is very satisfying, but you can also feel isolated. The online classes let me know that I was not alone, that we were all brothers and sisters in the end.”
The work is challenging and exhausting, but Adrianne says it’s all worth it when she makes a breakthrough with one of her clients. For example, her 14-year-old high-functioning autistic client initially found it hard to empathize with others. Adrianne arranged for her client to visit Tiny Town, which houses formerly homeless people in tiny houses. “We donated some clothes,” Adrianne recalls, "and the girl wanted to go home right away.” But Adrianne suggested she stay instead and interact with the residents. “Some moms and kids came over, and she showed one girl a particular dress and told her it would look great on her. She made this girl so happy,” Adrianne recalled.
Adrianne was thrilled. “Do you know what you just did? Tomorrow is the first day of school, and that girl probably wasn’t able to buy any new clothes," she told her client. "By giving her that dress, you just gave her a whole new outfit she can wear to school tomorrow.” And her client lit up, beaming, understanding how she had touched another person. “That was definitely seeing outside of herself,” Adrianne said. “Big success.”
Adrianne isn't done learning—she plans to enroll in further H-CAP programs to eventually become a Certified Nursing Assistant.