Regardless of the name you use: patient, client, resident, customer, care receiver, consumer, or DAD; it is imperative that you consider the importance of training the people who provide care.

Regardless of the name you use: patient, client, resident, customer, care receiver, consumer, or DAD; it is imperative that you consider the importance of training the people who provide care.

Proper care rests on the shoulders of the dedicated professionals who spend the most time with the people to whom you provide services. I use the word “professionals” because most of these individuals see this as their profession. As we know, they aren’t doing this to get rich. I call them “Sacred Warriors” because they ARE the front line army that takes care of our frail elders, and most of them love what they do. A recent survey shows that CNAs rate the highest scores in job satisfaction of all healthcare professions.

Day to Day

The stories that we see about abuse and neglect in senior care are the ones that grab headlines. What about the millions of paid caregivers (CNAs, Home Health Aides, Home Care Workers, Personal Companions) who show up every day, leave their personal problems at the door and provide compassionate care to a growing population? These professionals deserve to have the proper tools to do their often thankless jobs. They need training to provide proper care.

There are many training programs available that are low or no cost. Studies show that investment in training, including the time that you pay staff to participate in these programs, reaps great rewards. An educated staff provides better care that leads to better survey results – including regulatory and satisfaction surveys. A well-trained staff reduces turnover. Certification of staff limits liability and reduces insurance premiums.

Dementia Training

One area that demands attention is in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Everyone knows how dire this is across all areas of senior care. We all see the growing statistics, however, very little is being accomplished. The US Congress, through bi-partisan agreement, passed the National Alzheimer Project Act (NAPA) in 2011, yet very little has improved in the way of research funding. More importantly, the people who need the most help – families faced with this terminal, debilitating disease – receive little or no government resources to manage life-altering care responsibilities.

This is personal for me. My father started showing signs of dementia at the age of 59. The next year he had open-heart surgery, suffered TIAs (mini-strokes) and was diagnosed with “some form of dementia” – today we know this was vascular dementia. A few years later, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This was over 15 years ago and, at that time, very little was discussed about this growing problem. We saw the man that we loved slip away through a slow decline. Eventually, because of strict state laws to prevent elder neglect, my mom was forced to place her high-school sweetheart in a nursing home within 24 hours or risk going to jail. Our family was devastated.

The bright spot in this emotional story was the professional caregivers who provided excellent care to Dad. The administrator of the nursing home (which had a separate Alzheimer’s floor) believed that to provide proper, compassionate care to these residents, she had to educate the direct-care staff on communication techniques, dealing with and preventing “problem” behaviors, engaging activities, and overall knowledge of this disease. In the five years that Dad was in the nursing home, the facility practiced consistent assignment (the same staff members always took care of him) and there was very little turnover. The CNAs, nurses, housekeeping and maintenance staffs all had training in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Dad died almost five years ago and I know he received the best care until the end.

My personal mission is to enact widespread change in dementia care. I am not alone in this endeavor, as many organizations and government entities share this goal. None of us wants to read any more front-page stories of abuse and neglect. One major factor in this culture change is the education and training of front-line staff. My professional mission as Chief Operating Officer of the National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care (NCBAC) is to ensure that staff possess core competencies and knowledge to provide proper, person-centered care to people who have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Take Our Survey

As part of our mission, the NCBAC is conducting a survey of dementia caregivers (paid and unpaid) and people who train them. We need the help of industry leaders to spread the word so that we have participation from all parts of the country. The demographic information will be provided to government agencies and other decision makers. The results of the clinical portion of the survey will ensure the validity of benchmarks that have been set for core competencies and knowledge. This is a follow-up survey that we conducted prior to launching our Certifications in 2008. You can access the survey at Please share this link with dementia caregivers and those who train them.

Who cares about staff training? YOU should!