How Training for Caregivers Can Support Your Nursing Team

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Written by Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A caregiver assists a patient who is using a walker.

Is your healthcare facility struggling to survive a CNA shortage? Navigating ongoing staffing shortages is a major challenge for healthcare leaders, especially in the long-term care setting. Without adequate staffing levels, facilities can’t provide patients and residents with the care they need — and the cycle of staff burnout perpetuates.

Fortunately, a solution may be within reach. Hiring professional caregivers helps supplement your direct-care team and lightens the load for your nursing staff. Learn how to facilitate training for caregivers to begin adding them to your team today.

What Is a Caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who assists elderly individuals and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses with everyday tasks. Their job duties typically include helping individuals with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as:

  • getting dressed
  • bathing and grooming
  • feeding
  • toileting
  • ambulating

Caregivers commonly work in the home care setting as companions, providing socialization and assistance with daily needs. With specialized caregiver training, they may work as home health aides or in a healthcare setting. In these environments, their job duties may become more safety-focused and require a deeper understanding of healthcare terminology.

How Do Caregivers Reduce the Burden for Direct Care Staff?

The demand for qualified caregivers in long-term care is on the rise. By 2050, the number of adults over 65 in the U.S. is expected to double from the number of seniors in 2012. As facilities prepare to care for the aging baby boomer population, the need for caregivers is quickly increasing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates a 25% outlook for caregivers in the next decade — a growth rate five times faster than the average occupation.

If you’re wondering how to address future needs while currently struggling with staffing challenges, don’t panic. With proper training for caregivers, your direct care nursing team will be equipped to serve the patients and residents in your facility. Caregivers can help by:

  • reducing the workload for CNAs
  • identifying and addressing resident concerns or needs
  • reducing infection rates, pressure sores, and falls
  • providing companionship, which improves resident satisfaction

What Does Training for Caregivers Involve?

Caregiver training and licensing requirements vary by state. Depending on their location, a caregiver may be required to complete up to 12 hours of training and take a test to get certified. They may also be required to complete annual renewal training and take additional coursework to care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Some states require a person to obtain CPR certification and clear a background check and drug screen before working in a facility as a caregiver.

Arizona is one example of a state that lays out very specific certification requirements. Applicants there who want to become certified caregivers must complete a state-approved program (around 62 hours in length), pass a background check, and meet other requirements such as being certified in CPR and first aid and holding a current Arizona Food Handlers Card.

Two examples of national caregiver training programs are the American Caregiver Association and the Professional Association of Caregivers, which offer online certification courses for caregivers. Coursework prepares caregivers to transition from homecare to the healthcare setting, covering topics such as:

  • preventing, identifying, and reporting abuse and neglect
  • documenting care plans and activities
  • basic first aid for emergencies
  • HIPAA and the importance of confidentiality

5 Tips for Adding Caregivers to the Team

If you’re ready to bring caregivers to the team at your long-term care facility but don’t know where to start, follow the tips below. It’s important to find qualified individuals who are fit for the role to prevent negligent hiring claims and limit future turnover. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your facility has a team of qualified and dedicated caregivers who are ready to help support nurses and CNAs in providing high-quality care for your patients or residents.

1. Create a Recruitment Campaign

A strategic hiring campaign can improve your chances of attracting qualified caregivers to your facility. If you’re experiencing barriers to finding candidates, it could be because home-based caregivers aren’t aware of how needed their services are at your facility. Contact local schools or organizations that offer caregiver training courses to increase awareness.

2. Offer Shadow Shifts

Shadow shifts allow potential candidates to follow a CNA before joining your facility. Although caregiver duties and responsibilities differ from those of a CNA, it’s a good way for caregivers to develop clear expectations for the role in a long-term care setting. Shadow shifts also give your facility a chance to get to know the candidate prior to employment to ensure they’re the right fit.

3. Offer Financial Assistance

The cost of training for caregivers can be a barrier to getting certified, so consider offering scholarships or waiving training program fees for potential candidates. This approach is effective in California, where the Center for Caregiver Advancement offers free classes for caregivers in nursing homes and in-home support home services — putting over 18,000 caregivers into practice.

4. Create a Structured Orientation

New hires in nursing or CNA positions must complete an orientation period with defined skills check-offs. Allow caregivers joining your team to get a similar training period. When creating an orientation checklist for caregivers, be sure to include skills specific to your healthcare facility, such as:

  • documentation systems
  • nursing workflows
  • healthcare operations

5. Provide Continuing Education

It’s important to help caregivers maintain the skills and knowledge necessary for the role. Providing training and frequent practice updates can prepare them to renew their certification yearly and meet the changing needs of patients and residents.

Add Caregivers to Your Team Today

There’s so much value in adding professional caregivers to your direct care nursing team. With the right training for caregivers, these professionals can jump into patient care and begin reducing the workload for nurses and CNAs. Partner with IntelyCare to add qualified caregivers to your team today.