6 Ways to Create a Better Training Program for New Caregivers

Home Care Office Staff Hiring Tips

Training caregivers can significantly reduce caregiver turnover and helps boost agency operations overall. Here’s how to successfully onboard your new employees. 

Like it the old fashioned way?

With the constant ups and downs of recruitment and retention, it’s important to start focusing more effort on creating a top-notch caregiver training program.

In a recent webinar hosted by Kire Madsen, VP of Customer Success, we discussed some of the top reasons caregivers leave. Interestingly enough, training ranked in the top ten. From the words of the caregivers themselves, here are a few things they’ve noted:

“I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through when I started. The training was very unorganized and very rushed. We were left on our own. We didn’t get to ask questions. They need to be able to communicate better and be more organized.”​

“I was only trained one day and that was it.”​

“They could train the caregivers more than just showing a film. Before we go into a house, we need to know what’s going on and how to help the client.”​

While these quotes certainly don’t represent every caregiver’s experience, and many are more than satisfied with the way their agencies are handling training, it’s still important to address any areas for improvement.

Here are some of the ways you can create a stellar training experience for your caregivers and meet their needs more closely.

#1 Understand what your caregivers want

The best way to understand what your caregivers really want is to simply just ask. It’s easy to assume the specifics of what caregivers are looking for, but the reality is that sometimes, there are underlying conditions or needs that you might not be aware of.

In the 2020 Home Care Benchmarking Study, we found that caregivers have consistently complained about the lack of training provided to them. This can be broken down into four categories:

  • Individual caregivers lacked the training to deliver on the type of services clients requested.

  • Groups of caregivers had such varied levels of training and preparation that it signaled a need for the agency to provide training programs to ensure better consistency across the board.

  • Caregivers weren’t happy with the way training was delivered (most prefer a mixture of online and hands-on)

  • Caregivers wanted more opportunities to upskill and develop professionally with continuing education.

As you’re onboarding new caregivers, it’s important to adapt your methods to meet the needs of those you’re training. You’ll want to stick to a repeatable process overall; however, you should find small ways to customize or tailor your approach as you’re training a variety of individuals with different personalities, learning preferences, and more. You should be drawing from a foundation that’s the same every time or it will be hard to meet compliance or guarantee consistency.

#2 Start with the basics

If conducted properly, caregiver training programs are a pathway to building a career ladder. We’ve found that caregivers who are given the opportunity to learn and advance in their craft have been more engaged in their work and ultimately see a long-term future with their agency.

Before making any rash decisions about training, you’ll need to get down to the nitty-gritty.

When formulating your training programs, it’s important to remember that every agency is different — so don’t assume that just because your new employees have worked as a caregiver before, they’ll understand exactly how your agency operates. Make sure you are teaching, demonstrating, and practicing the basis of providing care as it pertains to your specific organization. No information is too much information – it’s always better to be over-prepared.

As you begin your initial training for new caregivers, set aside a specific amount of time for them to get to know your agency. This could simply be through an introduction session or allowing them the opportunity to ask questions – no matter how big or small they might be.

After surveying hundreds of home care agencies across the country, we’ve figured the number of orientation training hours agencies are offering and split it out by percentile ranking. While the median is about five hours, some agencies are offering as much as 26 hours of training or more. This may seem out of reach, but it can save you a lot of work in the long run if your turnover rate decreases. The more a caregiver is trained, the higher their satisfaction usually is, leading to lower turnover.

While there are certain standards that every home care agency must meet in terms of training and state regulations, you should carefully consider what else is important. Merely meeting compliance isn’t sufficient. Sometimes those extra hours of training can completely transform your client and caregiver satisfaction scores.

#3 Incentivize caregivers for training

Providing training opportunities is not enough to get caregivers to show up or put in the extra effort you’re looking for. You need to be strategic in your approach by providing incentives that motivate new caregivers to embrace these learning opportunities.

Almost all home care agencies are paying their caregivers for training nowadays, with some states being legally required to. If you’re not already doing this, we highly encourage you to start now.

Incentives don’t always have to be monetary. As long as you’re focusing on your caregivers needs and wants, incentives can take many different forms.

First, you’ll want to start by making sure your training is fun, engaging, and interactive. If caregivers are excited about the opportunities, training will be a breeze.

But that’s not all.

You should also be providing options for your caregivers to attend training sessions on multiple dates/times. While for the foreseeable future, training meetings may not be happening as a result of COVID-19, providing options (even for live, online training) is becoming more and more of a necessity.

Once your caregivers have completed their training, you can reward them with certificates and badges. Everyone likes to be rewarded and recognized. Showing that you appreciate their hard work through something as simple as a certificate (like the one below) can make all the difference.

#4 Use a blended learning approach

Even before the start of COVID-19, many home care agencies shifted their training approaches to be more inclusive of online learning. We’ve found that those who’ve adopted this method are typically more effective at attracting and engaging the best caregiving talent.

A blended approach gives you the options you need to satisfy every type of caregiver. Topics that require hands-on demonstration can be taught in the classroom, while others can be assigned online. For example, you may choose to assign an e-learning module on “Fall Risk Factors.” Then, follow up with an instructor-led demonstration in “Performing Safe Transfers.” A blended plan means you are not stuck with just one delivery method.

Coordinating training for a wide number of caregivers can be difficult – blended learning is one of many ways that you can cushion your approach.

Also, it’s likely you’ll have different types of learners, personalities, and ages in your training sessions – and using both approaches is useful to get the most out of each individual.

#5 Use training as a way to build company culture and build unity across the organization

Onboarding training is likely one of the first encounters that a caregiver will have with your organization where they can really dive-in and learn the ins and outs. It’s the perfect time to instill your mission and vision in them while fostering a culture-based community.

As soon as you begin onboarding and training new caregivers, you should hit the ground running by getting to know them and giving them the opportunity to get to know you.

First things first, you’ll want to start by sharing your core values and competencies. These should be what your home care agency lives and breathes by – and will help to set a foundation for your company culture. The stronger your company culture is, the better your organization will be overall. You’ll see an increase in hiring, a decrease in turnover, stronger culture and increased productivity – among many other things.

Training is the perfect opportunity to let caregivers (and other staff members) bond and interact– which is especially important since they’ll be spending much of their time alone in the client’s home. It’s essential to have some fun activities and get-to-know-you sessions to help your team feel more comfortable and connected with one another.

#6 Encourage on-going training through caregiver mentors, supervisors, and continuing education

Once caregivers complete their initial phase of training, learning and advancement opportunities should not end.

One of the most common reasons we’ve heard as to why employees leave their agency is due to not having the ability to progress with the company they’re working for. To sidestep this, agencies should be offering ongoing training opportunities, such as a caregiver mentor program, other educational initiatives with supervisors, and even continuing education courses.

A caregiver mentor program is simple—it’s a program in which experienced caregivers are assigned to look after new caregivers and are available to help with their training, answer questions, and provide any other support that they need. This is one of the best ways to help new caregivers transition into their roles post-onboarding. It gives them confidence knowing that they have people that are willing to listen and contemplate how they can be better in their roles.

Even with a caregiver mentor program in place, you should also be providing continuous training through other means.

As of February 2020, we’ve merged with In the Know, a leading caregiver training provider and preferred training partner of the Home Care Association of America. This is one option, among many, to provide training solutions for your caregivers.

If you’re frustrated with your current caregiver training provider but still have months remaining in your contract, don’t worry. You can get ITK eLearning for free until your contract ends. Apply now to see how many months free you qualify for.

Training for agency success

Here’s the deal: training caregivers can significantly reduce caregiver turnover and helps boost agency operations overall. Here are just a few of the ways 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.

HOME CARE AGENCY CASE STUDY

They attribute it directly to one specific tool. 
Read Their Story
Norwood Seniors - Case Study

If you’re not taking the time to focus on your caregiver training, there is no better time than now to start. It’s going to take extensive effort to implement some of the ideas we’ve discussed; however, the outcome is well worth it.

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