Thursday, September 13, 2007

Honoring the PROFESSIONAL Caregiver

Yesterday I shared some of my memories on the last time the staffing shortage in senior care was truly a crisis. Looking ahead, the aging of our society – and all of us boomers approaching our senior years – means that the shortage of the early 90’s could be a fond memory of times that really weren’t all that bad.

The other area that, I believe, ties in directly with this issue is our need to elevate the caregiver perception in the eyes of the general public to that of a profession, not just a lowly minimum wage job.

In practical terms this means not only talking about the profession of caregiver in our daily conversations with other professionals, but it also means honoring those individuals with the kinds of perks – and requirements – associated with other professionals.

Training, for example. Physicians have CMEs; nurses, attorneys and teachers have professional continuing education requirements. Many states have continuing education requirements for caregivers, but some of those requirements are so loosely enforced that simply reading a posting and signing that you’ve read it counts. Other states don’t address continuing education at all. Initial caregiver certification varies widely from state to state as well, with many states requiring no certification or licensure at all.

When I talk with owners and operators I often mention the need to offer extra training opportunities for all staff, especially caregivers, to give them the tools to become the best at their profession that they can be.

After all, for the most dedicated among them this is not simply a job, it’s their profession. It’s our duty - and our privilege - to begin to raise the respect for these individuals to a new level.

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