With American Samoa’s population growing and people living longer, the need has grown for more individuals who are properly trained as caregivers for the elderly and the disabled. This need led to a recent collaboration between the Nursing Department and the Apprenticeship/Workforce Development (AWD) program at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), and the Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) to offer a Caregiver Training which concluded its ten-week duration in late August.
ASCC Nursing Department Director Lele Ah Mu credits TAOA Director Evelyn Lilio Satele for taking the initial steps to make the Caregiver training a reality. Last year, Satele met with ASCC President Dr. Rosevonne Pato, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Letupu Moananu and Ah Mu to propose that ASCC host the training, which would be funded by TAOA. Satele already had in place the modules for the National Caregiver Certification Course, which covers core essential areas that include basic supervision, personal care, behavior management, and caring for individuals unable to directly self-care such as those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
With professional care giving a viable avenue to increase employment in American Samoa, the ASCC administrators agreed to offer the training under its existing AWD model in order to make it more easily accessible to community members while still open to ASCC students. By this past October, plans had progressed sufficiently for Ah Mu to seek approval for the training from the American Samoa Health Services Regulatory Board, which was subsequently granted, and by February 2020 advertisements were placed in the local media inviting interested individuals to apply. With TAOA covering the fees for entry and supplies, the training was basically free, although limited to the 15 participants judged most appropriate or in need based on the applications received. The training initially got underway in March with 13 participants enrolled, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that month forced it to be put on hold. It resumed as the ASCC summer session began in June with 10 participants continuing, and the training concluded on August 14th with all of them awarded their Certificate of Completion.
The areas of study included Client Rights, Infection Control, Basic Communication, Skin & Body Care, Nutrition and Food Handling, Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Medications and Other Treatments, and more. “The training gave the participants the ability to take care of the family members, especially the elderly,” recalled Ah Mu. “It was a total of 150 hours, which allowed them time to practice the skills they learned over and over. They were also taught how to take vital signs and glucose testing, and learned how to transfer and assist with ambulation safely, to reposition, and to perform range-of-motion to prevent contractures and bed sores. Their last modules covered how to handle food safely, how to safely assist with medications for patients who no longer can help themselves, and how to maintain their own well-being while working as caregivers.”
Ah Mu shared that five of the 10 participants who completed the training found the experience inspiring enough for them to declare an interest in the Certified Nurses Aide program offered by the ASCC Nursing Department. Ah Mu said another Caregiver Training will take place beginning on September 21st, with the number of participants once again limited to 15. Anyone interested in applying can pick up a form at the ASCC Nursing Department, or call Ah Mu at 733-4126 for more information.