Caring for seniors is a specialized part of the healthcare industry. This healthcare sector requires a unique skill set on the part of caregivers, and also requires numerous specialized facility operations. With the ever-changing face of the healthcare industry, new regulations and practices continue to evolve, forcing care facilities to adapt or to perish. Among the changes assisted living facilities face are improved privacy laws, new treatment protocols, and advances in medication management and administration. Assisted living facility insurance is only one part of a comprehensive risk management plan for care facilities; the foundation of any successful facility lies in the training of employees. In this guide, we will explore the top five training considerations that assisted living facilities (ALFs) must adopt in order to deliver the accurate and compassionate care their residents deserve.
A Look at Training in Assisted Living Facilities
Training has always been a part of the assisted living facility care model. New employees are instructed on proper patient management techniques as well as aspects such as diet and nutrition, patient/staff safety, and regulatory requirements. Established employees also continue to receive training at many such facilities, helping them to maintain the highest levels of quality and safety in care delivery. Unfortunately, not all facilities have adopted continuing education and training programs, and still others lag behind industry best practices. Great training has a real and measurable impact on the quality of care. This training also serves to help mitigate the common risks facilities and their staff are exposed to, reducing the potential for expensive and reputation-damaging legal claims.
Five Keys for Assisted Living Facility Training Programs
Now that we understand how valuable training programs can be, it is time to explore the top topics that should be a part of every ALF training program. The top five topics in training are:
- Assisting Clients with Mobility Issues – A significant percentage of patients in ALFs have some form of disability that makes mobility difficult. For staff members, transporting or moving patients can result in on-the-job injuries to caregivers, not to mention the risks patients may face if transported improperly. Training should include aspects such as safe patient transfers, range of motion exercises, and positioning considerations.
- Evolving Privacy Considerations – The healthcare industry has moved to electronic patient records, which streamline continuity of care between facilities. One drawback of electronic records is the risk of data theft or violations of established privacy laws like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Ensuring that caregivers and administrative staff adhere to these laws is vital as a part of any training program. Privacy laws change continually, so it is a good idea to offer staff members retraining or continuing education in this area of the healthcare practice. Assisted living facility insurance typically provides coverage for errors and omissions centered on patient privacy.
- Medication Administration – Medications help to treat health conditions, and typically require accurate dosing and scheduling. Caregivers must not only help patients take their medications according to prescription guidelines, but also must track and monitor medications at every stage of the delivery process. Training in medication administration helps to minimize errors, such as missed doses or other mistakes that can negatively impact the health and safety of residents.
- Recognizing and Reporting Abnormalities – Most ALFs have detailed patient protocols that govern treatment, medication, safety, and mental health, among many other aspects of the care delivery model. Staff members need to know what to do when they encounter any abnormalities or variations in those protocols. Training them to recognize abnormalities and to report them promptly serves as a valuable risk management tool, protecting the facility, staff, and residents alike.
- Cognitive Declines – As we age, our mental health can decline. Certain conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease require specialized training and intervention on the part of caregivers. Working with those with cognitive disabilities is challenging, requiring a careful balance of compassion and medical expertise. Training is crucial in preventing resident injuries, allowing caregivers to understand the best ways of helping residents that may be suffering from cognitive declines.
It is imperative that assisted living facilities implement rigorous training programs, not only for new employees but for experienced caregivers, administrators, and assistants. With a great training program in place, coupled with comprehensive assisted living facility insurance, facilities can deliver expert care to residents well into the future.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 877.226.1027.