For an updated, expanded version of this article see The 5-Minute Guide to Better Caregiver Training.
During interviews with home care clients, we, at Home Care Pulse, sometimes hear comments like this one: “I needed a caregiver who was trained and capable of lifting me, but the home care agency sent me a caregiver who didn’t know how to do it.” Clients can get frustrated if caregivers don’t know how to care for their needs. And caregivers get frustrated, too, being unable to or uncomfortable performing certain tasks a client expects them to do and consequently having to deal with a disappointed client. Training your caregivers how to perform job-related tasks empowers them. It will help them take better care of your clients. It also shows them that you care about them and about your clients overall satisfaction. As a result of caregiver training, you will be able to send prepared, confident caregivers into your clients’ homes, resulting in more satisfied, happy clients.
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Here are some ideas for caregiver training sessions you may want to plan throughout the year:
- Transferring clients. Train caregivers on proper transferring/lifting techniques and on the use of patient lifts, such as the Hoyer Lift. Make sure caregivers have the proper training and supplies necessary when called on to transfer a client from one location to another.
- Bathing. Caregivers must know proper techniques and helpful tips for bathing clients who struggle with various physical challenges.
- Alzheimer’s and dementia. Caregivers need to know how to work with clients who suffer from these illnesses. Caregivers need to be aware of the symptoms and know how to provide consistent, reassuring, and compassionate care.
- Incontinence care. Prepare caregivers for what it may take to keep clients clean, dry and safe, and how to help clients keep their dignity despite potentially difficult or embarrassing situations.
- Colostomy and catheter training. Offer caregivers training depending on what they can or can’t do (according to your state licensing regulations) when clients need help with these conditions. Caregivers may need to be trained in tasks such as proper/sanitary methods for emptying waste and keeping clients clean and dry.
- Safety. Caregivers and clients need to be safe in all situations. Safety training can cover on-the-job safety for caregivers and in-the-home safety for clients.
- Company policies, procedures and goals. Educate and update your caregivers about your company, your expectations and your business goals. They need to know how valuable they are to you and how they can help your business succeed. Caregivers also need to know your policies for overtime, scheduling, reimbursements, communication, etc.
- Cooking. This may seem like a simple thing, but sometimes clients mention, during interviews with us, that their caregiver was supposed to cook meals, but she couldn’t cook or didn’t know how to cook their favorite foods. Caregivers may need basic cooking tips or simple menu plans to help them learn what clients like to eat. (Caregivers from other nationalities may need tips on how to cook basic American cuisine.)
- Death and dying. Caregivers may have to deal with a client’s terminal illness or death. It can be difficult to lose a client who has become a good friend, and they may benefit from training to help them deal with their emotions in these situations. Perhaps also train them on how to assist a client or a client’s family who is dealing with shock, grief or loss.
As you plan your caregiver training sessions this year, here is some advice from Aaron Marcum, CEO of Home Care Pulse, and a former owner of a successful home care business:
- Know your state licensing regulations and make sure caregivers clearly understand the tasks they can or can’t perform, due to licensing and certification regulations. Plan your training based on those regulations.
- Call on various community professionals to assist with your training. A community health professional could help train caregivers on proper transfer methods. A worker’s compensation professional could assist with on-the-job safety training. A hospice worker could help train caregivers on dealing with death and dying. And don’t forget to have your most experienced, qualified caregivers assist with training. They can share valuable insight gained from experience with clients.
- Offer the same training session more than once, at various times on various days. This way, caregivers will be able to attend at a time that works best for them.
- Pay your caregivers for attending training. Caregivers will not be motivated to attend unpaid training. (Watch for an upcoming blog on other incentives to offer caregivers who attend training.)
Training caregivers needs to be one of your top business priorities. They are on the front line of your business, interacting the most with clients. Your caregivers need to be prepared and confident to perform the tasks required. Your clients and caregivers will all benefit from the training, which in turn benefits your business.
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