The start of another year presents a good opportunity for any non-medical caregiving organization to think about incorporating new training to enhance the skills and specialty services that it offers with an eye to better preparing employees to do their jobs. There's a huge opportunity for people within home care, home health, and similar areas to think about increasing the skills and value that staff bring to their interactions with clients. The ultimate goal is to be spreading opportunities throughout our organizations and especially for direct care workers. Here are six ways to use training to elevate the non-medical care workforce:
1. Teach caregivers about the diseases that most impact your client population. It will help to make sure that caregivers are better equipped with knowledge and feel more secure about the care they're providing. Everyone needs more than insight than what is provided by basic level compliance training to manage the chronic diseases that face our populations of patients.
2. Provide caregivers with training that encourages them to communicate better, especially with the older adults who may be your patients, as well as the family members and clinicians that surround them. Be sure staff has the vocabulary to talk about what's going on with the patient—proper terminology is essential. Training can enable staff members to communicate with people across different demographics and audiences. It also can serve to elevate the caregiver as your employee. Help staff members to feel like they have an important role embodied in their ability to talk coherently and productively about a patient's care.
3. Focus strongly on care plans, because most caregivers are going to have a care plan they need to follow. Encourage people to talk about care plans to understand what's involved. Make sure employees feel free to ask questions and learn more about the needs of clients. The goal is to make sure they're following a care plan to the greatest extent possible.
4. Support critical thinking. Staff members who really practice critical thinking ask lots of questions to show that they're thinking about what's going on with the patient. This will be incredibly beneficial when caregivers need to react to emergencies or delicate situations that require sound judgment. Training can help employees explore what to do in hypothetical situations and be prepared for the communication and decision-making demands of unexpected events.
5. Provide progressive education that builds on the competency of your caregivers. Go beyond compliance to focus on the life cycle of the caregiver as an employee. Building their skills can connect to creating a career path. And it can be meaningful for an organization’s efforts for recruitment, onboarding, and especially retention.
6. Provide training that promotes professionalism. Encourage self-care and a professional approach to employment. That can involve how people dress, how they communicate with patients and their families, and maybe something as simple as always wearing a name badge. Training can help employees understand some basic recommendations that really have an impact. And if you're not communicating expectations, you cannot assume all employees understand how to act and present themselves.
Implementing any of these suggestions can raise the profile of your organization, as well as enhance the perception of the care your staff provides.
This blog post is the fourth and final in a series based on the HealthStream webinar, “Building a Pipeline of Home Health Talent: It Starts with Training,” presented by Helen Adeosun, CEO and co-founder of HealthStream’s partner, CareAcademy. This webinar focuses on the value of training the direct care workforce to increase their value and stature as part of the care continuum, especially for learning’s impact on retention and outcomes. With experience in training and in caregiving, Adeosun has focused her career on driving outcomes for adult learners, and especially in finding meaningful ways for them to engage in learning.
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