Last week we talked about screening and hiring of home care staff, specifically about home care aides. Given that the schools that train aides are designed for acute arena, we in home care frequently find that we have to “jury rig” our aide’s skills and knowledge to meet the special needs of our clients.
There are some states that have recognized the differences between home care and the acute arena and have added curriculum requirements into the course work that partially address the needs of home care. However, we have found that overall, the skills needed by the home care aides in the home are not adequately addressed.
To remedy this issue, you will need to develop a curriculum that is specifically for your home care aides that met the needs, wishes, and demands of your clients. If you regularly do client and staff satisfaction surveys, you will have some of the elements identified that you will need to include in your coursework. Chances are that your clients and staff will have identified housekeeping and cooking as two major areas for instruction. Additional to those are the need to educate your aides in the most common diseases or disorders that your clientele deal with.
Specifically, home care aides will need to be educated in the care and assistance of those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, CHF, COPD, Diabetes, Arthritis, and Depression. We would also add in understanding of the commonly used medication for the above listed diagnosis and be taught the side effects of each and the appropriate actions to take. Of all the staff who interact with our client’s, it is the home health aide who spends most of the time with them and the ones who need to be better prepared to meet their needs.
To build a comprehensive curriculum for the home care aides it would look something like this:
- Fundamentals of caregiving — the basics
- Caregiving in the home — housekeeping, laundry, care of fine carpets and furniture
- Culinary Arts – buying food, storing food, diets, menus, preparation, and presentation. This would be a required for all live-in staff and would be taught with a dietitian and a chef in a commercial kitchen. Course work would extend over the entire year with a day each quarter with reading and homework required.
- Introduction to disease specific diagnosis, care, and treatment. Course work would extend over the entire year with a day each quarter with reading and homework required
- Medications commonly used per diagnosis and reportable side effects. Course work would extend over the entire year with a day each quarter with reading and homework required.
- Customer service — introduction at orientation and reinforced yearly.
At the end of the year, all home care aides that have successfully passed the course work, would be given a certificate of completion. We would recommend that there be ongoing yearly updates for all graduates of the certificate program to keep them apprised of any changes to either nutrition or medications.
When you have a work force that is trained in the above topics, you have a marketing edge and a guard against legal action taken by unhappy customers whose expectations of care were not met.
Our world is changing, and competition is getting tougher. To stand out above the rest, truly delivering quality high end care, agencies will need to make the special investment in their home care aids to assure that the services expected and paid for are being delivered.
If you have a need for establishing a special curriculum for your aides to meet your special group of clients, and you need some assistance, contact Kenyon HomeCare Consulting. We are here to help.