Innovative training program for dementia home caregivers calls for a team-based approach.
Team-centered training is the foundation of an innovative new training program designed to help home care teams solve dementia-related challenges.
ComForCare and At Your Side Home Care have launched the DementiaWise® training video series designed to change the way home care agencies approach memory care training, according to Stephanie Wierzbicka, manager of Strategic Health Programs for ComForCare.
Of the 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, most remain in their homes as the disease progresses, which illustrates the growing need for more dementia-capable home care services.
But developing a dementia-capable workforce is challenging for the entire healthcare industry, including home care agencies. Despite traditional lecture-style training and ample care strategies, caregivers of all disciplines still struggle to apply knowledge in real-life situations, according to ComForCare.
Ineffective training and support can cause caregivers to burn out under the stress of caring for a dementia patient.
ComForCare and At Your Side Home Care, which are part of the same company, created the program to address what they believe is a design flaw that has limited traditional dementia care training: Teams often lack opportunities to plan, test, evaluate, and reflect as a team on the process of adapting responses to on-the-job challenges.
"With that problem in mind, we knew that more hours in traditional training would be inadequate to improve life for our clients, their families, and our home care teams," Wierzbicka said.
Innovative Program Design
DementiaWise doesn't just lecture the information and strategies to learners, according to ComForCare. Instead, learning about dementia care involves team-based problem-solving, reasoning, and reflection on experiences.
For example, part of the video training depicts a caregiver collaborating with her team as they encounter common dementia-related challenges in home care. By working as a unit, each team member contributes their knowledge of the disease, evidence-based care strategies, the client, and the care environment to create best-practice solutions, according to ComForCare.
ComForCare employees share real stories from their experiences to show how better solutions can be found with knowledge of dementia care, creativity, and teamwork. Indeed, the program emphasizes a process of problem-solving, not just dementia-specific content.
To understand what home care workers want and need in their dementia-care training and to assess how well the DementiaWise program addressed their needs, ComForCare and At Your Side Home Care commissioned an independent program evaluation study conducted by student and faculty researchers at Duke University Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program and Partnerships for Health, a dementia consulting company.
The results of the evaluation:
- The odds of higher self-efficacy in ComForCare team members who watched or rewatched DementiaWise were 1.6 times the odds of higher self-efficacy than those who had not yet watched the program.
- The odds of higher satisfaction in ComForCare team members who watched DementiaWise were 2.2 times the odds of higher satisfaction in those who had not yet watched it.
Participants attributed the positive outcomes to specific features of the program, including an emphasis on communication, helping clients live life to the fullest, seeing clients in their totality, and developing soft skills for caregiving on a team.
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Even with traditional training and ample care strategies, caregivers still struggle to apply knowledge in real-life situations.
A new training program helps home care teams solve dementia-related challenges by incorporating a team-based approach.
The new program emphasizes a process of problem-solving, not just dementia-specific content.