CCRC 'drafts' high school students to help fight staffing woes

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The program pairs students with departments ranging from activities in the healthcare center, to the front concierge desk.
The program pairs students with departments ranging from activities in the healthcare center, to the front concierge desk.

Massive staffing challenges in long-term care won't go away without creative solutions. For one Atlanta continuing care retirement community, that means taking part in an event each year that could easily be mistaken for a professional sports draft.

Atlanta's Lenbrook community teamed up with national high school program Cristo Rey in 2015 to provide work opportunities for students, in exchange for helping pay their tuition. The Cristo Rey model provides students with four days of classroom education and one day of work each week at corporate partners such as Coca-Cola, AT&T and Deloitte.

Companies join students and families at “Draft Day,” a rowdy event full of spirit and corporate swag where students find out which workplace they'll be matched with, explained Lenbrook Brand and Communications Manager Rochelle Valsaint on Tuesday during a session at LeadingAge's Annual Meeting & Expo.

Once at Lenbrook, a rotating roster of four students puts in the hours of one full-time equivalent, trying out departments ranging from activities to human resources.

Lenbrook's program gives students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in departments they may wish to pursue in college, as well as the chance to connect with a resident mentor once a month. The idea is to get students prepared for college, possibly to pursue a career in healthcare. But the community benefits as well, from residents who get to visit with the young workers to full-time staff who get to see that millennials aren't are all that bad, Valsaint said.

“There's all this talk about millennials, and how they're different. There's all this confusion about how we bridge the gap,” Valsaint said. “At the end of the day … they're teaching us and we're learning how to work with them.”

Follow these links to find out more about Cristo Rey and its partnership with Lenbrook.

Do you know of a brighter, lighter long-term care news item that is suitable for The Brighter Side? Email Staff Writer Emily Mongan at emily.mongan@mcknights.com.