New program teaches SBCC students to care for elderly

Santa+Barbara+City+College+now+offers+a+program+for+students+to+earn+a+Skills+Competency+Award+and+an+Associate+of+Arts+Degree+in+Healthy+Aging.+Photo+courtesy+of+the+Santa+Barbara+City+College+Healthy+Aging+Program+and+the+Physical+Education+Department.

Courtesy Art

Santa Barbara City College now offers a program for students to earn a Skills Competency Award and an Associate of Arts Degree in Healthy Aging. Photo courtesy of the Santa Barbara City College Healthy Aging Program and the Physical Education Department.

MEGAN TONTI, Channels Staff

City College has created a Skills Competency Award in Healthy Aging designed for students to learn how to take proper care of the increasing elderly population.

With the population of baby boomers getting closer to their senior years, the need for caretakers is growing. The program provides students the necessary education and hands-on experience to be effective and compassionate caretakers.

“We’re seeing a tremendous need in the community for people to have further education in caring for the elderly,” said Ann Marie Kopeikin, chair of licensed vocational nursing. “There is a population explosion of the baby boomers who are turning 65 and older in our society.”

Santa Barbara City College now offers a program for students to earn a Skills Competency Award and an Associate of Arts Degree in Healthy Aging. Photo courtesy of the Santa Barbara City College Healthy Aging Program and the Physical Education Department.
Courtesy Art
Santa Barbara City College now offers a program for students to earn a Skills Competency Award and an Associate of Arts Degree in Healthy Aging. Photo courtesy of the Santa Barbara City College Healthy Aging Program and the Physical Education Department.

The program was originally designed to last for one semester. Students would take the four core classes and then receive a certificate. This worked for a few students, but with the curriculum being quite extensive, the program expanded to two semesters.

“We want to give our students the skills they need to take forward and use in our community,” Kopeikin said.

There are four health education classes that are needed to receive the skills competency award. They are health education 201, 202, 203 and 290. These courses are all about introducing and promoting living healthy in the aging years. The last class is for students to see what it is like to be employed in that field.

The program is also in the process of getting an associate’s degree offered. The classes are already selected, but it is in the works at the chancellor’s office.

This program requires the four skills competency award courses, a memory care class, a compassionate care class, general psychology and human development. From there, students can choose two electives from a list of five courses.

“One of our audiences is students who don’t really know what they want to do,” said Kathy O’Connor, chair of physical and health education. “They are interested in the health field, but don’t want to go into kinesiology or physical education. This is that middle ground that is a groundbreaking field in our country.”

The department is also working with Antioch University in downtown Santa Barbara. Students can transfer their courses and get bachelor degrees in psychology or sociology. From there, they can earn a master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on healthy aging.

There are many career paths available once students get their certificates or degrees. They can become directors in senior care facilities, corrective specialists, occupational or preventative therapists or elderly counselors.

“I think the future is working in a healthy aging environment,” O’Connor said.