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How Are Aides Trained Today?

January 25, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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I would like to sit in on a nurse aide training session to see what they are being taught today. Since aides are no longer being trained here, I know little. I have asked questions of new aides but many go unanswered. When aides were trained here, trainees had the opportunity to work daily with the residents. I always thought that was a good way for them to decide if they would like the job. It also gave trainees the opportunity to get familiar with us residents before they were hired. Back then, I offered to be part of the class here. Since I wanted more exercises, nurse aide trainees did range of motion exercises on me which turned out to be a win-win situation for the facility and me.

I have trained aides to for my personal care since the 70s. Training aides was one of my jobs when I was employed. When I set up my training program, I was going to go with my gut and type up some pertinent points and descriptions. Then I was told that a state university had an attendant training guide for students employed to care for disabled students. Since it highlighted personal care, I used parts of it. Since I wanted to know how my students would react in different situations, I observed them during class and asked questions.

My training regimen featured my common sense based training features. One was related to my own personal experience. I experienced frustration when aides left my presence without telling me where they were going. I felt it was only common courtesy for an aide to tell an employer where he or she was going when they left the room. So I suggested that aides tell when they were going to another room, or outside for a break. One of my students said that was the part of my class that made the biggest impression. She realized that a caregiver leaving without a word would cause the person they cared for needless anxiety. She told me later on that her employers were pleased that she kept them up to date on her whereabouts.

I have found that some people are easier to train as aides. Those who are very perceptive do not need to be drilled. But I wonder if nurses’ aide trainers now have realized that some of their trainees do not possess the social skills that most of us learned growing up. With single-parent families and families with two working parents, it is probably more difficult to teach social skills. Also acceptable social behavior has to be taught at home and reinforced in the schools.

Some younger nurses’ aides have not learned these social skills. Today we live in a casual society where we are not required to dress appropriately for very many of life's events. Schools do not usually have dress codes. Years ago, aides were required to wear specific uniforms usually pressed to perfection. Like nurses, their hair had to be off their collar and their nails had to be kept short. Today's rules are not nearly as stringent, or aides reject them soon after training. The common sense rule of a clean and relatively wrinkle free uniform is important. Many aides have nails that are too long. Artificial nails are fine if they are kept at an active or sport length.

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Kathy,
THANK YOU for this post. It is timely, important and needs to be spread around! Everything you mention is SO important and you are right: Miss Manners needs to come back. I too notice many of today's CNA's do not have any decent manner skills, as it were. This, along with unrealistic expectations of what their job is really is about, makes for a bad experience for residents.

I agree with you that hands on, real time training with real people is second to none. Now a days, it much more common to have aides who are trained by private businesses that are not associated with nursing homes. The aides get hands on training- at many facilities and not at one where they would end up being employed at. It's too bad, really.

Keep up these great posts about your observations. CNA's and others can learn MUCH by reading this. I am going to link to this at my blog.

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...