A recent conversation among long-term care leaders illuminated current beliefs about staff training and education in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. While one participant asked how many hours of training is necessary for staff to be competent in providing quality memory care, the conversation turned to a discussion about compliance versus education for competent staff.
Often leaders are only concerned with compliance in regard to staff training and education, yet it would be wise instead to focus on the bigger picture. If facilities, and memory care providers in particular, are to provide true quality person-centered care, we need to view education and training as more than compliance.
Any and every effort to educate is to be applauded. Employees will not learn everything they need to know in one session or the same twelve hours of education per year. Learning should be a continuous process as there are always new residents, a different disease or diagnoses, new treatments, and care providing strategies. Offering ongoing educational programs not only provides information, but is an indication that the organization sees employees as important and valued.
From an organizational standpoint, training in all of long-term care settings should include all staff, all departments, and all shifts. Every employee in the community is going to come into contact with the residents regardless of the department in which they work, and should be prepared and knowledgeable. For example, housekeepers spend considerable time in resident rooms and have information and observations that are valuable.
Ongoing training is essential for the growth and development of all employees, and research indicates this enhances retention as well. Routinely scheduled sessions are an opportunity for employees to communicate and share with one another, understand one another’s role and responsibilities, and enhance relationships across disciplines. And for leadership, training sessions provide the opportunity to assess morale, gather information on staff needs, tap their expertise, garner their commitment, and communicate organizational issues or changes.
In essence, ongoing, all-inclusive education and training is beneficial for all – the residents, families, staff and the organization.