Throughout the United States, millions of seniors depend on the safe and compassionate care provided by assisted living facilities. The staff at these facilities take their jobs seriously, giving residents the help they need with daily tasks as well as offering medical care and support. As with assisted living facility insurance as a risk management component, staff training is a vital part of the overall picture. Staff training can foster safety-oriented facilities as well as to instruct caregivers on emerging trends and risks. With the proper training, assisted care facilities can continue to provide care for those who need it most.
Staffing in Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities provide a wide range of care options for residents. Each facility is different, and every state regulates in some way what kinds of staff are present in a facility and what their responsibilities are. In general, however, there are common staff types in these facilities, including:
- Medical professionals – registered nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
- Medical paraprofessionals – nurse aides, nursing assistants, and support staff overseen by staff RNs
- Personal care aides that help with dressing, bathing, and other daily activities
- Housekeepers and maintenance staff
- Recreational activities personnel
- Transportation personnel
- Counselors/Mental health coordinators
- Food preparation personnel
Staff expected to interact directly with residents may be required to undergo specific training on healthcare topics. Support personnel may not be governed under the same requirements. Although each of these staff types may have their own training and certification requirements, there remain common areas of training that all staff should be exposed to. Education and training forms the foundation of quality care, and this critical factor cannot be overlooked.
Common Training Programs for Assisted Living Facility Staff
According to the American Health Care Association, effective regulatory compliance begins with staff training. Every state has its own regulatory requirements for assisted living facilities, and it is imperative that all stakeholders understand these requirements. Training, then, is a perfect opportunity to reinforce effective compliance.
Staff members at all levels – even those not in direct contact or responsibility with residents – should be trained on compliance aspects, including:
- The facility’s or company’s own regulatory compliance policies and procedures;
- Which staff members or managers are responsible for compliance;
- How the compliance program operates;
- Reporting mechanisms and procedures for alerting managers of noncompliance issues or lapses in regulatory requirements;
- Which regulatory standards are applicable to the facility in terms of healthcare and living accommodations.
Another area that all staff members should be trained on is infection control and prevention. In the close living quarters of many assisted living facilities, a communicable disease or infection could spread rapidly, potentially putting residents’ and staff lives at risk. Training staff members in direct or indirect contact with residents should include:
- Recognizing the signs and symptoms of infectious diseases.
- Guidance on disease transmission vectors and avoidance in spreading harmful pathogens.
- Handling residents and equipment that may be contaminated with pathogens.
- Implementing infection control practices such as handwashing and personal hygiene protocols as well as immunizations for staff and residents.
For all staff members in a given facility, basic lifesaving skills training can be a valuable addition to the training roster. Staff members should, at a minimum, be trained on CPR and first aid; state health departments and the American Red Cross may offer training programs that take place within the facility. Quick response to medical emergencies can spell the difference between life and death, especially when at-risk seniors are involved.
Benefits of Staff Training
There are many reasons why rigorous staff training programs in assisted living facilities benefit the organization, staff members, and residents alike. Long-term care facilities have a duty to their residents to provide safe and compassionate care; training on safety procedures and healthcare needs helps to ensure great care for residents. A safer facility is one that need not rely entirely on the protection of assisted living facility insurance as a risk management tool; safety-oriented workplace cultures and staff members help to reduce or even eliminate common risks.
An underappreciated but crucial benefit of employee training is in retention rates. Employees invested in the facility and its services tend to be happier with their jobs, thus improving retention. Quality training programs also help to attract top talent to facilities. When employees believe their interests and professional goals are valued – such as in the continuing educational opportunities provided by training – they are more likely to want to work for organizations providing those opportunities. The end result is an agile, highly-trained and capable workforce, doing their part to serve as qualified caregivers for our nation’s seniors.
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.