Planning Key to Effective Home Health Staff Education

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Lori Shifferd By Lori Shifferd 
Director of Implementation, Consulting and Education, Change Healthcare
Home Health Agency Training

As the home care industry continues to change in response to regulatory and patient demands, educating your staff effectively should be a critical consideration for your organization.

Providing education on best practices and established workflows can equip your staff to deliver quality patient outcomes to help increase patient and family satisfaction with the care received.

For many organizations, though, training is an afterthought. If the patients are being properly cared for, why is training necessary?

Personalized, Yet Standardized Care
The delivery of healthcare is not only local, it’s also highly personalized. That can be a good thing and a not-so-good thing at the same time. People can approach the same opportunity or challenge in totally different ways, with unexpected results. Some of those results could improve care and should be taught to others; however, some may result in poor care quality and must be discouraged.

As with any successful event, planning is the key to making sure it is successful. Education is no different. Organizations should have a detailed plan for educating current and new staff.

In developing the plan, consider the following:

  1. Relevance of the education to the attendee – how will it help them?
  2. Delivery methods – instructor led, self study or a combination?
  3. Supporting tools – procedures, guides, job aides, Q&A sessions?
  4. Measurement of effectiveness – how will we know it worked?

When thinking about relevance to the attendee, doing so by job role can help. Many home health agencies also offer hospice services; however, the two facets are different enough that training plans should be tailored for each. There may be overlap in roles that will need to be considered.  Every field clinician, for example, should be trained on assessing risks in the home, preventing falls and proper lifting techniques. But aides have no need to learn how to perform an OASIS assessment.  Ensuring that the education is specific to a defined role will assist your organization in aligning performance expectations.

One of the biggest mistakes educators make when training staff is using only one form of delivery for the materials. Classroom handouts and PowerPoint presentation are ubiquitous learning tools, but that may not be the best way to deliver truly meaningful education to your staff.

We all learn in different ways, and as educators, we need to have multiple formats for delivering and supporting education. Using multiple learning methods can help instill important concepts based upon how the individual learns best – visual, auditory, or tactical (hands-on). For example, while giving a PowerPoint presentation, some participants may learn best just by listening, others may need to review printed materials during or following the presentation, and others may need to experience it themselves to understand.

Validation of the education received is also important. Validation can be delivered in many forms such as formal testing, verbal testing, demonstration or observations.  Measuring the effectiveness of education can help you identify where a refresher of the material is needed.  Doing so proactively can result in employees feeling more supported, more confident, and ultimately better performing.

Planning is the key to successful education, and successful education leads to successful employees.

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