Many of you have probably have heard of “cross-training.” The term usually conjures up images of gym clothes-clad men and women sweating through workouts.
With this exercise approach, a person alternates their workout activities. The intent is to affect a more comprehensive range of muscles and to increase both cardio tolerance and muscle growth, with less chance of injury.
So, one day you may crank your cardio on a cycle. The next workout, you sweat through squats, bicep curls, planks, and crunches. The next, you ramp up your heart rate on an elliptical, then on to some resistance exercises. But whatever the activity, the crux of the regime is to broaden your body’s overall strength and endurance.
There’s another kind of cross-training that also intends to strengthen and broaden abilities: cross-training in the working world. Skill versatility is an essential attribute in our modern, professional environment. Particularly in the evolving assisted living industry.
Meet the Challenge
Senior care facilities are looking at the cresting wave of a soon-to-be “silver tsunami” of residents. As the youngest of the baby boomers shuffle towards age 65, campuses must acclimate to the volume and needs of the most populous generation - the U.S. Census predicts the number of Americans over 65 will hit 83.7 million by 2050.1
One of the adaptions senior care organizations can leverage is cross-training for resident staff. Assisted living facilities have traditionally employed “helpers” with little medical training. But as aging seniors begin to express their preference for the continued hospitality-like atmosphere and services of assisted living, rather than other types of long-term senior care operations, a need arises for a cross-functional worker.
Stretching Performance Muscles
Employees who are trained in multiple disciplines can pack two core benefits. First, their expanded skills would allow the current residents to remain in place if their health comes to require more intensive care. Secondly, their flexibility would ease staff scheduling, shortages, and other related issues.
Suppose several campus staff got hit with the flu, and the facility is down four caregivers. But all administrative staff are all healthy. If they were also cross-trained to function as caregivers, they could step in temporarily to fill the more critical caregiver roles.
Cross-training can also help reduce the number of incidents related to lack of proper skills. A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of assisted living communities revealed over 23,000 critical incidents, some involving death.2
In the Public Hospitals Act, a critical incident is defined as any unintended event that occurs when a patient receives treatment that results in death, serious disability, injury or harm to the patient, and is not a primary result from the patient’s underlying medical condition or from a known risk inherent to treatment.
If staff were trained beyond the primary duties of their individual job requirements, perhaps some future incidents could be avoided.
Running with the WOTC
But where there is valuable training, there is cost. Fortunately, a tax credit exists that motivates assisted living facilities towards their training goals: The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).
This federal incentive hands over up to $9,600 to an organization that hires an employee from any one of 14 target groups. These target groups consist of individuals who often face barriers to employment, such as vets and the long-term unemployed.
The cash returned on the tax credits can help build the organization’s budget tolerance for training and other critical costs.
Hitting Your Target
Whether in the working world or the workout world, cross-training pumps up flexibility and tones an individual’s abilities. And employees with more versatility can help assisted living facilities warm up to the wave of seniors that will be crashing into residencies in the coming years.
And the WOTC can help condition their bottom line for greater performance.
- Elder Financial Abuse: How CPAs Can Help – Part 2, AICPA, 2017
- Heightened Assisted Living Scrutiny Highlights Need for Airtight Operations, Senior Housing News, 2018