The quality of an agency is determined in large part by the quality of its caregiver training.
At Home Care Pulse, we talk to thousands of caregivers every month to learn what their home care agencies can do better. One of the most common complaints we hear from caregivers is that they receive insufficient training.
One frustrated caregiver recently complained:
“I’d like to learn how to tube feed and use a Hoyer lift the right way. I have clients that need those things and they don’t train on how to do it. One time they told me just to look it up on YouTube.”
Another caregiver acknowledged the training they’re getting, but feels that it’s not enough to prepare them for the challenges they face on the job:
“There is just a lot of reading and quizzing, which is fine, but the hands-on part was the most helpful. . . In terms of what I was expecting to do in the field, it would have been nice to have more in depth training that was hands-on.”
Then there’s this complaint, which we hear all too often:
“Any training that I receive is not provided by [my agency]. If there is training, I have to pay for it.”
While there are plenty of great agencies out that provide thorough training to caregivers, it’s clear that this is a major area of improvement for the home care industry. Inadequate training lowers the quality of care that your caregivers are equipped to provide to your clients. It also increases caregiver turnover by causing them to feel disconnected from your agency and less confident with clients.
How Caregiver Training Reduces Caregiver Turnover
Caregiver training has a powerful effect on reducing caregiver turnover. According to the Home Care Benchmarking Study, agencies that provide 8+ hours of ongoing training annually have a 7% lower caregiver turnover rate. Furthermore, agencies that make solid training programs part of a larger push to create an exceptional culture for caregivers often see decreases of turnover by 15% or more. Wondering how?
Well-trained caregivers feel more confident in their work and are more likely to remain with your agency
Training is an investment in your caregivers that increases their sense of professional value and by extension, their satisfaction as a caregiver
Agencies with great training programs attract caregivers who view caregiving as a career destination rather than as a short-term way to pay the bills
What Should You Train Your Caregivers On?
While the topics you need to train on vary depending on the needs of your clients and the abilities of your caregivers, there are general topics that are important to address.
Here are the top five topics caregivers report wanting to be trained on, according to the Home Care Benchmarking Study:
Take a good look at #2. Caregivers are hungry for training of any kind.
Other topics to train on include:
Common safety issues (for themselves and clients)
Household skills such as cooking and cleaning (one memorable client interview we conducted told a story about a caregiver who tried to make grilled cheese in a toaster. The result was exactly the kind of cheesy, fiery mess you’d expect.)
Understanding depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders
Dealing with falls
What types of help they can give and what they cannot give due to lack of certification
Training focused on specific certification
Dealing with death and dying
Bathing and incontinent care
You may also want to include occasional trainings that may not be as directly necessary for your caregivers’ work but will help to develop them personally and professionally, such as:
Time management skills
Communication and interpersonal skills
Best Practices for Caregiver Training
Make the most of your training by following proven methods:
Ensure that new caregivers receive personalized training through orientation and caregiver mentors or supervisors. Over time, they’ll settle into the job and regular company-wide training should be sufficient, but it’s important that your caregivers are thoroughly trained and prepared for the job up front.
Use a mix of online and hands-on learning. A very strong theme we get in the caregiver surveys we conduct is that caregivers want a mix of self-guided online learning and hands-on training. Many training vendors offer a blended solution that includes both.
Incentivize your caregivers. Pay them for training time, or at the very least provide some kind of compensation. You can also increase participating and engagement at trainings by providing food and incorporating fun elements into it.
Choose a time and frequency that caters to your caregivers’ needs. You might hold monthly trainings and have multiple sessions in the evening on different days to allow caregivers with various schedules to attend. Online training helps by allowing them to do some of the training on their own time.
Give them time to ask questions and get help with specific issues they might be having with their clients. Caregivers might have unexpected questions or problems, and training meetings can provide a great forum for them to find solutions.
Take advantage of trainings as a time to foster unity. Caregivers need to feel connected to the team since most of their time is spent alone in the client’s home. Have some kind of fun activity to help your caregivers get to know each other, and use the time to give out recognition to caregivers who go above and beyond.
Do Your Caregivers Walk Home or Fly Home?
We don’t mean this as literally as it sounds. Here’s what we mean:
There’s an old story about a town full of turkeys. One day, they all go to a turkey convention and listen to a turkey speaker who announces that he’s going to teach them how to fly. After an hour or two of instruction, all the turkeys are flying around the building. They’re very excited and grateful to the speaker for teaching them how to fly.
Then the convention ends, and all the turkeys walk home.
The training you provide is only useful to caregivers as they apply it. While most caregivers are hungry for more training and will eagerly use whatever you’ll give them, it’s important to do everything you can to help them make the most of it. Have your supervisors and caregiver mentors follow up with caregivers in their work, reinforcing the training they receive and answering any further questions they have.
Update: We’ve Merged With In the Know to Provide Caregiver Training!
As of February 2020, We’re excited to announce that we’ve merged with In the Know, a leading caregiver training provider and preferred training partner of the Home Care Association of America, to take advantage of the synergy between surveys that tell you where problems are and training to help you fix it. We’re also offering bundled discounts to agencies on surveys and training. You can request more information here.
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