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Michigan's Direct Care Workers Convene at MSU to Shape Future Standards

Direct Care Workers (DCWs) from across Michigan convened at East Lansing's Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center to spearhead the development of a new credentialing exam pivotal to their field. Hosted by IMPART Alliance in partnership with WorkCred, the gathering aimed to enhance training protocols and ensure DCWs possess indispensable skills for their roles.

Throughout the week, DCWs from Midland, southeast Michigan, and the greater Lansing area engaged in intensive writing sessions. Their mission: to formulate rigorous exam questions that will assess competencies in areas such as communication, infection control, safety, and person-centered practices. These exams not only would validate the expertise of DCWs, but also match them effectively with individuals requiring their compassionate support.

Bethany Duyser, assistant director at IMPART Alliance, highlighted the collaborative nature of the initiative. “This event is pivotal for developing evaluation items that truly reflect the demands of Direct Care Workers,” she explained. “By incorporating insights from experienced consultants and the firsthand experiences of DCWs, we are committed to establishing credentials that are both meaningful and equitable.”

Marcus Jefferson, a DCW from Grand Ledge, works in a group home that supports individuals living with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that is defined by a constant sense of hunger, leading to obesity and type-2 diabetes. Jefferson said one individual lost more than 200 pounds.


“This isn’t a job for a person who’s not invested here,” Jefferson said, pointing to his heart. “In our home, we can’t afford to have just a warm body. We need people that are not only engaged, but capable. And that’s what this training does.”



Michigan's Hidden Crisis: The Urgent Need for Direct Care Workers

Imagine if you or a loved one, who is older or living with a disability, needed critical or long-term care, and there was no one to provide this type of support. This is happening right now in Michigan because we don’t have enough direct care workers (DCWs). These vital workers, who go by many titles, help with personal care, daily activities, rehabilitation, job assistance, and community living support. Yet, despite their crucial role, DCWs are underpaid, undervalued, and in short supply.


This shortage has serious consequences. Families are overwhelmed. It is causing some employers to close their doors, cut back services and turn people away, which is putting lives at risk. It affects non-health care businesses, the economy, all of us. A strong direct care workforce can help people stay at home where most people want to live. It reduces unnecessary hospital stays and nursing home placements.  Competent DCWs can keep emergency situations and dangerous conditions from happening.


Michigan currently has about 190,000 DCWs.  We need at least 36,000 more. Over the past four years, the Michigan Legislature has increased the hourly pay for some categories of DCWs. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has created a DCW Advisory Committee to address the problem and provided funds to IMPART Alliance at Michigan State University to set up a DCW career center. Other initiatives by advocates across the state have led to positive progress. What is happening in Michigan is exciting and something to be proud of, but it is not enough.



MSU nonprofit research team receives $25 million to improve direct care workforce

Michigan State University has received a $25 million grant to address the state’s shortage of direct care workers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. A research team housed in the College of Osteopathic Medicine will use part of the grant to establish a Direct Care Worker Career Center.

IMPART Alliance is an MSU-led research team and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the direct care workforce profession through training programs, advocacy, research and career development.



MSU receives $25 million to address the direct care worker shortage

Michigan State University received much-needed funding to address the state’s critical shortage of direct care workers. Those are the people who provide long-term care and support to people with disabilities or older adults.

“You need to be compassionate, you need to be empathetic and you need to have a lot of patience,” said Kelli Ohnstad, a direct care worker.

Helping those in need maintain as much independence as possible. An important job that is lacking staff.

“We have approximately 175 to 190 thousand direct care workers in the state right now we need 36 thousand more,” said Clare Luz, Executive Director of the Impart Alliance. 



MSU receives $25M to take lead on long-term health care needs of Michigan residents

Michigan State University has received a $25 million grant that will address the state’s critical shortage of direct care workers, or DCWs, by establishing a Direct Care Career Center that aims to increase pathways into the field and transform the public view to one that recognizes the workforce as a respected profession.

DCWs provide long-term support to individuals with disabilities and older adults. They assist with hands-on care and tasks needed to maintain as much independence as possible. Paid direct care assistance beyond what families can provide is often a necessity, but there is a dire shortage of people trained to do this kind of work. Employers are facing serious challenges in hiring and retaining staff. About 190,000 DCWs are currently serving the state’s residents; at least 36,000 more are needed.

IMPART Alliance is tackling a problem faced by all of us, including our parents, our partners and, ultimately, ourselves,” said executive director and leading faculty researcher Clare Luz. “The U.S. and Michigan’s populations are rapidly aging, which is creating a greater demand for high-quality, lower cost supports and services at home, where most people prefer to live for as long as possible in their later years.”


IMPART Alliance leaders and Direct Care Workers from across the state recently joined forces to focus on job analyses


This collaborative effort is a crucial step towards developing competency assessments, which will serve as the basis for granting competency-based credentials for Direct Care Workers.

by Emily Lorditch

MSU Researchers Urge Action Now for the Eldercare Demands of the Future

"Clare Luz, gerontologist, and Kevin Foley, a geriatrician, in MSU’s Department of Family and Community Medicine in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, say meeting the demand requires recruiting more medical students into geriatric specialties, training more direct care workers and improving the culture that defines aging."


IMPART ALLIANCE Lands $50K Grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to Develop Infection Control Training

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today announced a partnership with IMPART Alliance at Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine to develop infection control training for direct care workers. MDHHS has provided IMPART Alliance $50,000 in COVID Relief Funding to develop the training and make it widely available for direct care workers (DCW) providing home and community-based services. IMPART Alliance will develop a comprehensive Infection Control curriculum for training all direct care workers and family caregivers. MDHHS, IMPART Alliance and others will widely distribute the training to increase access and skills for the caregivers. The training will be free of charge and available online in December 2020.


DCW Training at Grand Ledge High School

Grand Ledge High School students are learning key healthcare skills by participating in a free IMPART Alliance Personal Care Aide training course! The first training session, "Introduction to Aging", encouraged students to learn about how some older adults might experience physical challenges. The Grand Ledge School District has provided great support for this pilot program and students are excited to build their healthcare skills!

Building Capacity to Train DCWs across Michigan

IMPART Alliance has 23 trainers across Michigan teaching DCWs person centered supports and services skills using the BTBQ(TM) curriculum. Our next targeted area for trainer development: the U.P. and Southeast Michigan!

The PBS NewsHour Special Report


The NewsHour explores the state of today's Direct Care Workforce in two segments that features Direct Care Workers, homecare agencies and advocates in Michigan.