Thursday, April 10, 2008

Use Your Brain and Your Heart

Our IT Director wandered into my office the other day and made the general announcement that I send – and receive – the most emails of anyone in the company. While I was feeling a bit smug, my husband reminded everyone that only a few years ago (time goes by fast – it was at least 8 years ago) I refused to use email, telling all my friends and colleagues that if they wanted to talk to me, pick up the @#$%$& phone!

But I digress from the topic I intended to write about, and that’s an April Fool’s email I picked up today - ahhh, that’s how I got to the bit about too many emails – some don’t get read until a week or more has gone by.

It was a post from my very favorite e-learning blogger, Tom Kuhlmann at the Rapid E-Learning Blog. Here’s the link – it’s worth 5 minutes of your time: April Fool’s E-Learning Example.

While it’s a spoof on e-learning tips, one message stuck with me, because I believe this one message alone would change the face of training, especially for senior care staff in assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care settings:

“Use your brains and your heart to make your training smart.” (It’s actually part of a rap that’s on the demo.)

Although in my company we often refer to the flash-card approach to e-learning; that is, the repetition of key concepts through stories, games, quizzes and illustrations, we aren’t really teaching multiplication tables.

We’re teaching people to be compassionate, caring, observant individuals – to notice something that is unusual before it becomes a crisis.

We’re teaching people to be on the lookout for ways to brighten the days of the seniors they work with; to add smiles, hugs, laughter and playfulness to the daily dose of doctor-prescribed medication.

We’re teaching staff to understanding how to create an environment of caring and to avoid anything that might harm a resident, no matter how unintentional.

We’ve got to teach the heart and the mind to truly train people to be the kind of caregivers that we want caring for our mothers – our fathers – someday, ourselves.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Risk Management in Senior Care: the Case for e-Training

I was talking with a client of ours the other day and she shared a story that I can relate to all too well. She was asking staff for their feedback on the new e-training system that they have been using – just happened to be our system, aQuire Training Solutions.
“Believe it or not,” she said, “I kept hearing comments like this: ‘I learned so many new things’ from my staff. The most eye-opening thing for me was that this is content I’ve been teaching in inservices for years – it’s not really new!”

What Debbie was commenting on – and what I’ve experienced first hand – is that staff don’t remember. They don’t remember what you said during an inservice – or a dozen inservices. Maybe it’s because we tend to schedule inservices on pay-day, and staff could be just a little tiny bit preoccupied with how badly they need that check.

Maybe it’s because staff are either on their way out the door for the day (mentally clocked out), not really checked in yet - or not quite awake (quality training for night staff probably doesn’t happen during their regular sleeping hours).

Whatever the case, it seems like a lot of the time staff just aren’t listening. And in my experience, that’s troubling.

Troubling because training topics are things that staff really need to know. It’s not “hey – here’s a fun idea to do with your family this weekend” kind of stuff. It’s the kind of information and skill development that means the difference between quality care and just eeking by.

It is also the training that makes the difference during survey or when litigation is threatened.

Did you train staff on this? When? Where’s the documentation?

And then when someone asks the employee, “Have you had training on this specific topic?” and the employee says “No – I don’t remember ever being trained on that!”

Your sign-in for the inservice training isn’t going to carry much weight. You can say, “I know we covered that information,” but if your staff doesn’t remember it, and say they have never been trained on it, guess what – you’re in trouble.

And that’s where e-training can save the day. Not only do you have documentation of training, you have the EXACT content that the training included, a test that the employee had to pass to earn a certificate, and validation that the person was tuned in and trained on the topic.

And if you, like most companies, have a blended approach to training – some stuff you still have to cover in inservices or seminars – our newest module, the Training Tracker will let you document that training on the same page as the e-training. One click of the “Print” key and you’ll be able to document full training compliance for every employee.

And if you’re like me, one of the things that keeps you up at night is managing the balancing act of meeting increasingly rigorous licensing requirements and avoiding threatened lawsuits. Lose your balance on either one, and you’ll pay in time, money, and reputation.

Sort of makes implementing an e-training system a no-brainer.