Monday, January 28, 2008

Elder Abuse 101

We’ve been working hard in our office on new caregiver online training programs, and one of the focus topics we’re in the middle of is training on abuse and neglect – how to identify it and prevent it, and what to do if you see it happening to someone in your care.

One of the themes that comes out again and again in stories about elder abuse is caregiver exhaustion. The source for this exhaustion is typically short staffing and lack of training. Over and over we read stories of abuse happening in facilities that don’t have enough staff, haven’t screened their new staff enough, or don’t give their employees the training they need to feel confident about their work – leading to more and more job stress.

The job of caring for a vulnerable senior is a stressful job. We can’t afford NOT to screen more carefully, staff workforces fully and train above and beyond the minimum requirements. With the easy, affordability of online training resources, we have no excuses for not solving at least one of these areas that contribute to elder abuse.

If we don’t make these efforts the persons who will be abused may be you loved one or mine. For my part, I’ll do everything I can to make sure that ALL caregivers everywhere have the tools to know what constitutes abuse and neglect, and know what to do if they feel stress or overworked or see a co-worker in that position.

Thanks to a couple of YouTubers for posting videos that help spread the word about elder abuse prevention, and who have given us permission to use their material to help train new caregivers. It does indeed take a village working together to make changes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

E-Learning One Solution to Nursing Shortage

T & D blog linked to my most recent press release about the adaptability of e-learning to the health care field - an adaptation that seems to me to be long past due. Here's my original comment:

When Parade Magazine highlights the nursing shortage, you know the issue has reached popular concern.

Parade Magazine is the supplement that comes in more than 400 Sunday newspapers and contains celebrity news and interviews as well as popular features.

Recently Parade ran an article titled “What’s Behind the Nurse Shortage?” In the one paragraph article Parade quotes Cheryl Peterson of the American Nurses Association citing the trend toward hiring foreign nurses as a poor solution to the problem.

But why is there a nursing shortage in the first place? Nurses make good pay, have their choice of many types of work environments including hours and shifts, and often receive large pay differentials for working the less desirable hours like evenings, nights and weekends. It seems like a good profession, with a fairly quick timeline between starting nursing school and entering a well-paying, high-prestige medical profession.

Here’s the problem, as identified in Parade: not enough schools, instructors, classrooms and training openings. Applicants are being turned away by the thousands (over 42,000 just last year, according to Parade); meanwhile foreign nationals are being hired to fill critical positions in hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies, often with less than optimal results.

aQuire Training Solutions ( ) has begun developing new programs to address this problem, beginning at the most basic level, the Certified Nursing Assistant.

“So much of education is currently defined by hours in a classroom rather than by knowledge and skills developed,” comments Sharon K. Brothers, MSW, President and CEO of aQuire Training Solutions. “As the shortage of nursing staff increases across the country we will need to be much clearer about the real goals of training, and how to be more efficient – and effective – in training more individuals to be skilled nursing professionals,” says Brothers.

Brothers and her staff at aQuire Training Solutions have begun offering online courses to Certified Nursing Assistants and other caregiver staff and are working hard on developing new courses designed to train more nursing professionals.

“We can train an unlimited number of individuals with the reach of the Internet and the technology for training and testing currently available,” asserts Brothers. “There is absolutely no reason that individuals who have a heart for nursing should be turned down because of a lack of classroom space or instructors.”

Brothers believes that learner-led e-learning can be just as effective as classes taught in the traditional setting. E-learning courses are available over the Internet, and don’t need a classroom, set schedule or physical instructors.

“E-learning today involves the student in a participatory, learner-directed style,” says Brothers. “With e-learning, not only is the student unable to sit passively in the back of a classroom, but the student is also controlling his or her learning completely: the pace of learning, the environment, and the flow of the content.”

New approaches to e-learning include the use of games, real-life scenarios and content designed to grab the emotions of the learner.

“Quickly engaging the emotions of the student is especially important in training people in the field of nursing,” says Brothers. “The best nursing assistants and nurses are those who have made the ‘ah-ha’ leap between nursing knowledge and skills, and the feeling that their work makes a real difference in the lives of the people they care for.”

Brothers predicts that e-learning will rapidly grow as a viable alternative to traditional classroom training, especially for nursing professionals who are becoming increasingly in demand in the U.S.’s aging society.

About aQuire Training Solutions is an e-learning solution to the challenges of providing meaningful training – both initial and ongoing – to senior care providers, particularly those with hands on, direct care responsibilities. aQuire Training staff are senior care and education professionals who have developed online training that incorporates games, scenarios and emotional learning to help build a workforce prepared to meet today’s senior care needs and poised for tomorrow’s avalanche of needs. aQuire Training currently offers a variety of courses including compliance courses, skills training for caring for individuals with memory loss and dementia, and general direct care courses. aQuire Training also develops custom courses to meet the needs of senior care professions or provider companies. aQuire Training staff can be reached toll free at 877-843-8374. Sharon K. Brothers can be reached via email at

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Learning for Life

One of the joys of the holidays is having the kids home from college – my own, plus their friends from colleges all over the country who drop by and are good for lengthy philosophical discussions.

Over dinner last night we talked politics and the up-coming primary, and eventually morphed into the college learning experience from three different perspectives.

One daughter was thrilled that none of her classes have more than 12 students. She craves the small group environment and the individualized attention.

Another daughter talked about her joy of learning from classmates and others besides the professor.

A friend shared his experience learning in an auditorium setting with hundreds of other students.

We all agreed, however, that the initial college education, no matter how valuable is only the first step in a process of learning that will last our whole lives.

I shared my own frustration with people who refuse to support college education for youngsters who “don’t even know what they want to do when they finish.”

Coulda been talking about me. Not that I didn’t know what I wanted to do; just that what I’m doing now wasn’t even invented when I graduated from college.

The internet may have existed, but it certainly didn’t exist in my realm. Online learning wasn’t an option, let alone a method to teach people effectively using the power of computers and the internet.

Today, I have the distinct privilege of helping people get their continuing education credits online with our website for senior care administrators, Over and over I hear from our learners that they had no idea online learning could be so interesting, engaging and effective. It’s not unusual for a course evaluation on EasyCEU to end with this comment,

“I learned more from this one online course than from several classroom courses I’ve taken on this subject over the years.”

Music to my ears!

This past year we embarked on a journey to create meaningful, effective learning opportunities for the most important member of the senior care team: the direct care worker. Our aQuire Training Solutions’ e-learning product is specifically designed for these important people.

The caregiver, CNA, housekeeper, food service worker, activity assistant, and all of those other individuals who are our hands, eyes, and hearts “on the floor.”

The ones who provide the daily compassionate attention for the most vulnerable seniors in this country – caring that makes the difference between a good community and the proverbial warehousing.

The ones who, with the right training, tools and support will be a workforce to be proud of. A workforce to make a difference that will affect your family and mine.

A tall order, indeed.

But one that my own drive for life-long learning has equipped me to tackle with a passion and an energy that makes each day at my job an exciting, interesting time.

Can’t wish anything more for my college children and their friends today!