Home care workers require a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, so that they can provide better care to their patients. This according to a recent report by PHI, a national organization representing the direct-care workforce.
The home care workforce includes health aides and personal care aides who help with assisted daily living activities. Many care organizations provide home care as a transitional service for discharged skilled nursing residents or partner with third-party agencies that provide a range of services as an extension to care in a professional setting or as a stop-gap to moving to a higher care level.
Home Care: Required Training Parameters
Home care aides require more training in how the disease progresses and how it affects communication. Moreover, since an Alzheimer’s patient often communicates in ways that may not be intuitive, especially in mid to late stages of the disease, understanding verbal cues is important. For example, they might not be able to verbally express their concerns (such as pain, constipation, hunger, or thirst) and instead may communicate through behaviors such as anxiety, agitation, aggression, and depression.
Communication is key.
Home Care: Current Experience Status
Currently, 33% of home care agency clients has some level of cognitive decline, but, surprisingly, only 13 states have dementia/alzheimer’s training requirements for home aide workers.
This should not be the case. In fact, technology and innovation are available to improve the workforce, including online training modules and specialized training that focuses on individualized alzheimer’s care and specialized skill sets.
In a call to action for state governments, PHI makes five recommendations to policymakers for the improvement of dementia training for home care aides:
- Develop and implement training programs for home care aides to provide effective support and services for individuals with dementia
- Strengthen state training requirements
- Fund and test innovations in the areas of technology and peer mentoring that can improve home care
Training is critically important in an industry responsible for serving those with cognitive impairments. Research shows that proper care for people with dementia can improve their quality of life. In contrast, a lack of proper training can lead to a more challenging situation for the aide, the client, and the family.