Don’t Let Your Frontline Fail… Train Them!

Guest post by Ellisa Lee RN,BS,EMT,CDP,CADDCT, Training Director, Prestige Medical Solutions

2.5.16_Ellisa Lee_photoMany have said that frontline staff is invaluable to the care team. Who is our frontline team? Are they our aides or could they be inclusive of all the healthcare workers who are the frontline of patient care? Most would agree that when we talk about our frontline staff, aides and techs come to mind.

I remember discussing the idea of strengthening our frontline staff training with a manager at a local hospital. During the conversation she stated, “We spend so much time running around worrying about whether or not our nurses have or are getting their BSN that we pay no attention to our aides and really do nothing extra in terms of education for them.” As the conversation went on, my wheels started turning and I remembered thinking, “Boy, she hit the nail on the head!” Besides the “mandatory” in-services and the other operational type of in-services, what other opportunities are we granting our frontline staff? Unfortunately, additional training is limited because we function in such task-oriented roles that often times we cannot think outside of the box.

The face of healthcare is rapidly growing. People are living longer and we are faced with the challenge of caring for this rapidly aging population. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. We need to start changing our thinking in terms of how we are training staff based on this statistic alone. Some clinicians say that dementia will be an epidemic and it will begin to get worse soon. The key is to start educating and training your staff now. If we fail to do so we will not only fail our staff, but it will be a tremendous disservice to the people we are charged with caring for.

The topic of sexuality and seniors is another game changer facing healthcare. Many staff members have reported receiving little or no training in the area of sexuality or the topic of sexual intimacy. How much time do we spend talking to our frontline staff about sex? In a study by the National Commission on Aging (NCOA), women, in particular, find sex over 70 as or more satisfying than, say, in their 40’s. Imagine that! This is a side of aging that has been overlooked. As healthcare professionals, it is imperative that we understand all aspects of aging, including sexuality in aging as well as the LGBT community and their needs. In order for our staff to accept the changing trends, they must be trained.

NursePatientCircleIconTraining overall helps in many key aspects of delivery of care. It helps define competency standards and employer expectations, improves quality of care, dispels stereotypes and stigmas, improves safety, and in some cases, helps reduce turnover. After interviewing ten random workers, they all agreed that they “get tired of hearing the same stuff” when it comes to training. To the nurse’s point, in the beginning there are many training options available for other disciplines but not for aides and techs. Of all the frontline staff, the aides and techs spend the most time providing patient care. With that being said, why don’t we spend more time educating them? Those responsible for training should seek out various training options. There are certifications available that many do not know about or take advantage of. Any well-versed manger knows the value of the frontline staff. The investment in training does not have to always be monetary, but it is certainly invaluable.

Here are a few tips for training:

  • Try not to make training so formal. Turn training into a game like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. Offer small items as prizes (nothing fancy or expensive).
  • Pick someone in the session to give an introduction of the training and what they think it will include.
  • Maintain structure while allowing others to share their experience(s) on the topic.
  • Rather than traditional “tests”, occasionally use a different approach. For example, try putting questions in a bag and let participants pick one out and answer.
  • Conduct a small question and answer session.
  • Always allow for feedback on the topic.
  • Keep your participants engaged.

And always remember the Golden Rule of Training: BE PROACTIVE, not reactive.

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