I volunteer in a long-term care home which serves, among others, those with dementia. The aides in this home have had dementia training and the care level is already exceptional. I think this is because management expects the aides to…well, to care — not just to ‘provide care,’ and because management models this value. Still, the nursing supervisor wanted a performance boost. Training.
Aides benefit from understanding dementia and from exposure to the best ideas on dementia care. But what’s most important about staff education is that their new knowledge lead to new workplace habits. Training that doesn’t result in improved care is about ‘CYA’ compliance for CMS, not about caring. How do we ensure that training actually improves how we do our jobs? How do we transfer the training lessons from the training site to the workplace? As a reinforcement tool, cueing is used very effectively in memory support homes which adopt Montessori methods. Are there some short-and-sweet (and fun) cueing tools we might use to reinforce training?
If there were just a few practices that would transform care, I believe it’s those illustrated in the poster below. These are tried-and-true best-care practices from experts like Teepa Snow and Naomi Feil. Let’s try turning these ideas into cues to use where we work: nurses’ stations, employee lounges, food prep areas, in the laundry, at the time clock. Hanging icons separately in the halls—for example, the little cheerleader—may remind us all to encourage and praise residents’ efforts. We’d be surrounded by encouraging reminders. Cues keep us mindful of the kind of environment that is most beneficial for all residents, especially those with dementia.
Along with cueing, another way to reinforce training lessons is the use of rewards of some kind. The next step is to develop a rewards program for aides who go the extra mile to use these ‘care commandments.’ This is trickier but surely warranted for aides working to create an environment that says, “We Love Our Residents.”