Have you thought about different options and reasons for caregiver education? Why would you even want to bother with caregiver education? It's an extra expense and it is extra work for somebody in the office but there are some good reasons to offer this, such as…
For one, your caregivers may need some extra education. They came to you with what they already knew. They're going to learn as they're working on the job and training with clients, right? Sometimes you start a caregiver with minimal skills with a client who may need minimal help. Then, if that client gets sicker and needs more help, your caregiver will learn as they go. That's wonderful, but that's also the long way to get there. Any outside education you can give them to make them better at their job, to make them more confident, make them more marketable as a caregiver for your agency or in the future is a benefit for them. That falls under caregiver benefits, education, and training.
Often, you will have clients interview your company asking what kind of training you offer your caregivers. They’re wanting to understand whether or not your caregivers have the support and the skills needed to handle their needs.
There's confidence behind that. You can offer your clients some extra confidence by being able to say we have a training program and then explaining that to them. It's also good for marketing especially if you have a specialty program like dementia, Parkinson's, or something neurological; any sort of additional education you can give to your caregivers, even a certification, is going to be tremendous. You can go out there marketing your specialty program, knowing that that your caregivers really have been trained in these areas that you say you cover.
When is the best time for caregiver training? Some people will actually use a training program as part of their orientation. Even though they may have gone through all the basic policies, they want everyone to have a baseline of certain kinds of education. This is a great plan. Of course, you want to start from the beginning, but education should be ongoing. We know what we know, until we learn better.
Timing: There’s Always New Information
You'll want your educational programs to be ongoing because things change. For instance, 20 years ago, dementia and Alzheimer's were almost synonymous, right? A lot of people didn't even know the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia. Now here we are, and we know of many different types of dementia. There are new developments in research and knowledge about disease processes, non-medical interventions and equipment all the time. In order to keep up, your training program should be updated continually with new or updated videos and topics at least annually.
Your training needs to be ongoing as well as anytime there's new information. You have a client with a diagnosis that you've never dealt with before. You're going to have to educate yourself on that so that you can train the caregivers, but if you could find specific training or education on whatever that disease process is, that's going to be a win for you, your caregivers and your clients. We're educating ourselves all the time, so don't consider it a one and done kind of thing.
You may even want to set something up so that there's an incentive to receive a certain amount of training per year. For example, you get a program that has 150 or 200 different topics so they can pick from those and in return they get a raise or a bonus. Some agencies pay their caregivers for all the training, and others will offer another type of incentive.
Now that I’ve covered some of the reasons for offering caregiver education, how are you going to follow through?
· Everything's done online now it's 2024. Can you get a room full of caregivers together? You could probably get a few at a time, but for the most part, If you want to reach a large number of your staff, you're going to have to give them options that are right on their phones. Having them come into the office when they're not working. That's going to be prohibitive for their time and could be a little more costly for you. I recommend using online program for sure.
What to look for in a training program:
Variety - Look for a company that has a wide variety of topics, at least 100 different courses. Your clients' needs and your caregivers' skill levels are vast and varied, so your educational content should be as well.
Accountability - for completing the training. Basically, you need a way to check if they watched videos, completed tests, and see if there is a certificate to download. There needs to be an accountability factor so you know that they did what was asked.
Affordability - Remember to factor in affordability and sustainability. If you're a small mom and pop type of agency, is $600 a month going to be an option for you? Probably not, it needs to be reasonable. It might be priced based on the number of caregivers that you've registered or the number of people you want to train. If necessary, you could register a few at a time, but be sure not to deprive anyone of needed training. Worst case scenario, you can keep a comprehensive list of free YouTube videos for your team to watch.
Lastly, make sure you can get out of the contract if they're not delivering all they promised.
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