We are proud of our stellar onboarding process. New caregivers attend 30 hours of paid, classroom-style training including dementia education, hands-on bedbound hospice training, as well as other components. One of the liveliest modules is run by our most experienced caregivers to cover the nitty-gritty of being a caregiver.
No managers are in the room during the "nitty-gritty" module. The experienced caregivers come in and lead an open, honest, "anything goes" exchange with the new staff. They have an opportunity to bring up their fears and potential frustrations about caregiving. This format offers them a safe space to ask questions, express concerns, and receive a real-life perspective on their caregiver role of a non-medical homecare agency.
What can I do with my client who insists that I keep the lights off when you're trying to care for them?
How do I wake up my client who I need to get ready for their adult day program, who pretty much refuses to get out of bed?
What magic words can I use to get my resistant client to allow me to bathe them when they only have services once a week and they haven't bathed themselves since we did this last week?
How do I redirect my client when he insists...
What do I do when my client yells at me as I'm helping her in the shower and...
Their questions are authentic and these folks need solid advice from caregivers who have been in the trenches for a while and are successful in their profession.
Nitty-gritty training is different than the other modules. With all the caregivers are trying to take in, this component of the training is unique and very refreshing. It is also a time of bonding, sharing of sincere concerns, and often bumping up against internal belief systems. New caregivers openly share their feelings and the seasoned caregivers can address each and every concern offering tips, tricks, last-resort ideas, and reassurance that it will all be okay.
Ashley, one of our seasoned caregivers, responds to a new caregiver's inquiry of a very difficult situation, "You take a deep breath, pull up your 'big girl pants', smile, and say calmly to the client..."
Valerie, another one of our seasoned caregivers, has another great response to a new caregiver who brings up a challenge she is having. Valerie assures her, "I know how it is, to go in for the first time when you've been told your new client is a tough case. As I go in, I have a big smile on my face, I know to stay calm, no matter what, and I keep smiling. It may sound corny but being calm and having a smile on your face goes a long way."
The seasoned caregivers review how important the care plan is and what to look at right away. Ashley tells them directly, "Ambulation, transfer information, meals, and driving. Also, when we're coordinating with other agencies like the VNA or a private caregiver, it is important to know who else you are going to encounter in the home or who just left which may have a big effect on what you're walking into." Valerie adds to that, "I always try to make light of it. Stay calm and keep smiling!”
This portion of the training fills the gap between theory (the regular training) and practice (actually being in the client's home). A couple funny moments are shared openly from the seasoned caregivers to the new employees. The group roars with laughter. Valerie ends the meeting with a story of an incredibly rewarding moment with a client. This is the reason caregivers do what they do.