Image of man walking up a career ladder with a briefcase

(Credit: Malte Mueller / Getty Images)

As senior living communities struggle to recruit and retain competent staff members amid a historical workforce shortage, a Pittsburgh-based provider is using a professional development program to provide opportunities for career advancement and additional wages.

IntegraCare calls its Motivational Advancement Program, which launched in February, an “investment” in team members. 

“We are caring for residents every day, and this speaks to the human spirit,” IntegraCare President Loriann Putzier said. “The Motivational Advancement Program is another investment in our employees and provides them an opportunity to invest in themselves.”

MAP is open to the provider’s 600 hourly employees at its 15 senior living communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Employees can opt into two training cycles per year to grow professionally within their chosen area of senior care and service expertise — community experience ambassador, resident wellness coordinator, cuisineur or certified nursing assistant.

Each training cycle includes one-on-one mentoring, peer support, textbook and online education, and demonstrations. 

Full-time staff members have the ability to earn an additional $5,200 to $8,275 annually if they meet established milestones, based on performance metrics. Those who reach milestones or certifications also receive bronze, silver or gold medals to wear on their ID tags. 

Part-time employees who have been with the company at least six months and work at least 20 hours per week also can participate and earn additional compensation equal to approximately half of that offered to full-time employees.

IntegraCare CEO Larry Rouvelas said that the senior living provider was one of the first to mandate staff COVID-19 vaccinations, and the company reached 100% vaccination of its staff in June. The company also implemented a wage increase for all employees this fall. The MAP program, he said, is the logical next step in employee development.

“Now we have a robust offering of new and ongoing team member training programs that make sure our team is prepared to meet the ever-changing needs of our residents and position them for future success,” Rouvelas said. “We invest in our team and help them invest in their future.”

Each training cycle is limited to no more than 50 participants. Employees can apply or be nominated by a peer or supervisor. The first MAP cycle, which launched Feb. 1, included 34 IntegraCare employees.