Personal care assistants high in demand, new course hopes to change that

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- As we age, sometimes we need more help, and not everyone wants or needs to move into a nursing home. So, personal care assistants are in high demand.

"I'm currently caring for my mother-in-law who's 91," said Debbie Harrison, the owner of Visiting Angels. "So, in order to attend this meeting, I had to bring a Visiting Angel into my home to take care of mom while I came out to the meeting."

Her's is a common story, and she certainly isn't the only one in a situation like this.

"There is a shortage of care providers," Harrison said.

That's thanks in part to a growing segment of the population, baby boomers.

"We have a lot of baby boomers all over America and in Grand Junction," said Kathy Goe, Program Coordinator for new Personal Care Assistant program.

In 2016, baby boomers made up over 15 percent of Grand Junction's population, according to the US Census.

"One of the biggest needs as a CNA provider in this community we realize that personal care providers were really at a lack," said Georgia Hoaglund, Western Colorado AHEC.

So Western Colorado Area Health is providing a week-long course for those who want to be a personal care assistant.

"Try to be able to fill the need and get people excited and interested in health care because it's one of the careers we're always going to have," said Hoaglund.

The course teaches students CPR, first aid, administering medication and more.

"As the community needs grow we will continue to offer this program," said Goe.

They're doing all this in hopes this most vulnerable demographic is taken care of with dignity. The course will be available for the next 18 months, and costs $25 for a pair of scrubs.

Their goal is to graduate 175 people from the program. It's just a week long and the first class starts on Feb. 26.

To register, you call Western Colorado AHEC at (970) 434-5474.

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