Are you trying to come up with a stellar caregiver training curriculum? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Between managing the annual Home Care Benchmarking Study, surveying thousands of clients and caregivers every month, and talking to hundreds of agencies each week, we have valuable insights on the topics that need more focus and attention for caregiver training.
Here are some specific topics that you should cover with your caregivers.
Housekeeping is a topic that’s quickly swept under the rug. Many of these skills and tasks are viewed as common sense; however, some of your clients may use washing machines or dishwashers that are less conventional or intuitive to use.
We survey thousands of caregivers each year to learn how their agencies can improve. Some of these comments reveal how much need there is for basic housekeeping training. One caregiver recently told us simply: “They should offer more common sense training to the new employees like how to operate a washing machine.”
You can help caregivers by making sure that they understand how to navigate new appliances and devices and ensuring that they are comfortable with their working environment.
“Light housekeeping” is not always clear as to what it does and doesn’t include. Train your caregivers to understand what they should and shouldn’t be doing for their clients. Does light housekeeping include:
Scrubbing down the shower?
Cleaning the bathroom floors?
Your caregivers may be used to doing their own housekeeping tasks; however, it’s different for other people. Use this as an opportunity to have your caregivers demonstrate their understanding of what they can and can’t do for a client and what they should suggest if something is outside of what you offer.
2. Transportation safety
According to recent statistics, there is approximately one car accident every 60 seconds in the US. Make sure that your caregivers are staying safe on the road.
You could use driving time as a valuable caregiver retention tool when respecting and honoring the distances that they are willing to drive from home. Caregivers drive an average of 11 miles per shift, and some have lengthy commutes to work. Are you sure that they are driving safely?
It’s important for caregivers to be safe and vigilant drivers and be mindful of how to support their clients in the car.
Important information to relay to your caregivers:
Maintaining car cleanliness at all times (some clients may need their walker or wheelchair folded up and put away)
Keeping the car at a reasonable temperature for clients (Ask them if they’re cold or hot)
If their client has any musical preferences
It’s also important to consider transportation logistics for clients. Do your caregivers have vehicles that are easy for clients to get in? This is a matching criterion that would be helpful for clients that have appointments.
3. Preventing pressure ulcers
Pressure ulcers are common in home care, but this does not have to be a continuing pattern or trend. These injuries and sores are the results of lying on or remaining in the same position for too long which puts too much pressure on the skin.
In order to mitigate risk, clients are encouraged to exercise and remain active, however, not all of them are able to do this on their own. Typically, clients that are bedbound need to be repositioned or moved every two hours. Are your clients meeting this standard of care?
Make sure to train your caregivers on how to identify a pressure ulcer, how to reposition properly, and how to identify improvement or worsening of an ulcer.
Some clients may opt to use a pressure-altering mattress. These mattresses shift pressure from side to side to prevent the client from developing a sore without repositioning.
4. Recognizing abnormal observations
Do your caregivers know what to record and what not to record? Train them on how to identify what’s normal and what isn’t normal.
Be clear with your expectations of what a caregiver visit note should look like. Outline which details should and shouldn’t be included.
Caregivers need to understand several basic observations:
Normal blood pressure readings
Normal skin turgor levels
Empower your caregivers to do what’s best for their clients, and that starts with knowing what’s normal and what’s abnormal.
5. Caring for clients with mental illness
There are many different classifications and types of mental illness that your caregivers may work with. Are they knowledgeable on the conditions that are in client care plans?
When your caregivers work with someone living with depression or anxiety, they need to be equipped to help clients achieve the best possible quality of life. Train your caregivers on best practices to help someone in a moment of distress or who needs additional support.
Help them learn what’s normal and abnormal for each condition so that they know how to proceed.
It’s one thing to have enough staff to sign on a client, but are you genuinely addressing their care needs and have a path to improve their outcome? Once you master caring for clients with a particular mental illness, this could become a specialty that your agency offers.
6. Caring for someone after a stroke.
Did you know that in the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds? Once patients are out of the hospital, they need skilled and experienced assistance with their personal care needs.
When you hire new caregivers, do you perform a skills evaluation to measure their comfort levels working with various clients? With stroke care, clients need a particular skill set that requires thorough training.
Here are some aspects of stroke care that your caregivers need to know:
To dress clients on their affected side first
Show them how to use a power chair (and how to plug it in)
7. Preventing readmissions
Did you know that falls cost the U.S. an average of $34 million in direct care costs? Your home care agency has an opportunity to train caregivers to keep clients at home while reducing overall healthcare spending.
Many families enlist home care services for a loved one to prevent them from going to the hospital. Do your caregivers know how to lessen the chances of a readmission?
Additionally, do they know what the causes of readmission are? Make sure to train caregivers on relevant statistics, and conditions that are likely to readmit
For a home care agency, successful readmission prevention means:
Strengthening relationships with your referral sources
Promoting client health outcomes
Increasing client satisfaction and length of service (without interruptions)
lver bullet strategy to eliminate readmissions, but with thorough caregiver training, your agency will be on the way to improving client care and increase their length of service.
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8. Helping someone with COPD
Seniors are at higher risk for COPD than other age groups, and that underscores the importance of training your caregivers on COPD.
COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and it makes breathing difficult. On top of caring for your clients’ immediate care needs, do your caregivers know how to create COPD-friendly meals?
Make sure your caregivers know how to:
Ensure that their client’s air is clean?
Encourage clients to be physically active without being too pushy?
Show clients how to use oxygen the right way?
These are a couple of points to touch on, but using a client-centered approach is important to make sure that the training resonates well with your caregivers.
9. Helping someone after a heart attack
805,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, many of which are silent and can go unnoticed. They can also present differently in men versus women.
When your caregivers are visiting a client who recently got home after having a heart attack, are they prepared to help the client recover?
Make sure to teach them the essentials of what they need to know:
There are many different aspects of a client’s life that can be addressed through home care, and your agency can come up on top by specializing in cardiovascular care.
10. Common medications
Seniors generally have more medications than other age groups, and it’s important for your caregivers to know what some of them do. Most older adults take 4 medications a day, with almost half taking five or more.
Do your caregivers understand what medications they’re reminding clients to take? Here are some common ones that they may see:
Hydrocodone: commonly used for pain management
Omeprazole: commonly used to treat heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux
Diuretics (a category): commonly used to manage high blood pressure
Metformin: commonly used in clients with diabetes, to optimize how the body handles insulin and lowers blood sugar levels
Your clients may not use all of these, but your caregivers should know how to identify common medications that seniors take. They can also learn what medications interact with each other and how to identify a contraindication, or what to take note of if their client starts a new medication.
Train your caregivers to be the best they can be.
Training is the number one reason that caregivers turnover, and you can turn it into your biggest strength. We covered this in a recent webinar; you can view the replay here.
We survey thousands of caregivers every year, and there are ways to fix the concerns that they have. Here’s one example: “The training could be better, basic care isn’t covered enough with them. They should go over dressing them and bathing them properly.”
Training has been a contributing factor to caregiver turnover, but it doesn’t have to be. In an episode of our podcast, Dawn Spicer, Caregiver Development Manager at Home Instead of Jacksonville, explained that training is “trying to customize [learning] for everyone and make sure…success looks different for each person.” Each of your caregivers has a unique past and a unique way of moving forward.
Training is a mechanism for career movement and mobility. How are you showing your caregivers that there is a path for them?