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Reputable senior care agencies put their staff through an entire regiment of training exercises and etiquette, but this training covers only the basics and universal policies of home health care. Good senior care, however, also involves a good amount of individuation. Every senior has unique circumstances that can require tweaking of basic home health care methods. As such, you can expect a certain amount of expertise and professionalism from your home health care staff, but you'll still want to augment this senior care training with your own health care priorities and peccadilloes.
Strategies to Augment your Senior Care Training
- Boundaries: This component of home health care is huge for both you and your staff and shouldn't be underestimated. Ideally, you'll have friendly, even fun, interaction with your home health care staff, but you still pay these individuals to be there, so you can't confuse them with other friends in your life. Co-dependency and unhealthy expectations can destroy the relationship you have with individual staff members or your staff as a whole. From retaining autonomy over your life to demarcating when and how you can and can't be touched should all be explicitly discussed with your staff.
- Balance Resources and Rewards: You may find that your senior care agency sends the same couple health care aides to your home. Or, maybe you have one person who takes care of your morning needs every weekday, while your weekend care is more of a patchwork of different aides. Naturally, you should focus the majority of your senior care training on the staff members who comprise the majority of your care. Fortunately, these staff members are usually the same ones who administer your care best, anyway, but you should seek to put your training time and resources where they stand to return the greatest benefit.
- Delegate and Cross-Training: One of the most underused strategies for senior care training is the delegation and cross-training of staff members. Maybe Kelly does best at transfers, while Dan is best at toileting. Devote one day every month or every three months to get your whole staff together for training. Let Kelly show your staff how she does transfers, and let Dan show how he does toileting. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much difference a single session can make. Still, you can't expect every staff member to perform every task with the same level of proficiency. Cross-training will maximize individuals' strengths and minimize weaknesses, but it still won't make everybody the same.
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- Take the Time, Show Patience:
Many seniors believe their staff can be best trained by being thrown into the deep end. Indeed, for many home health aides, their ability on the job is a simple sink-or-swim proposition, but you shouldn't completely neglect or dismiss targeted training. The pressure and immediacy of trying to get to the bathroom in time can create bad habits in transferring and home care etiquette. Take the time to do some training when you have the opportunity to direct, revise, and discuss the practices and methods of your home health aides. This type of senior care training is another potential game-changer when it comes to the quality of your care.
When Senior Care Training Fails...
Whether you have one of the "bad eggs" from your senior care agency or a particular individual just doesn't seem to mesh with your needs no matter how much training you give, you should feel like you have the right and the ability to remove someone from your home health care staff. You can't continuously reject every staff member with a flaw or dismiss an aide without an honest attempt at supplemental training, but some people just don't work out, and that's okay. Talk to your senior care agency about the issues that are preventing particular aides from working out. This will help the agency find better matches for your aides. If the agency continues to send you unacceptable employees, you may need to look for alternate sources for your home health care staff.
Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.