How Are Aides Trained Today?

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.

A recent article stated that most young people would benefit from reading a Miss Manners’ book. That same idea would be helpful for nurses’ aide trainees. Knowing etiquette and using proper manners make life easier. It is never too late to learn what is proper in order to feel comfortable in most situations.

Frequent hands on training with residents helps aide trainees feel comfortable sooner. A vocational school may do training on a larger scale, but a smaller class with up close and personal work with residents could be quite beneficial.

Aide training should include how to address residents. An article on the New York Times blog “The New Old Age” reflects my thought that the terms ‘honey, sweetie, and other diminutive speech’ are not necessarily welcomed by residents. Some might be offended. Residents could be asked what they prefer to be called. Personally, I would rather be called by my name.

After training, nurses’ aides need reinforcement at work including coping tips and someone to talk to when they encounter frustrations. Someday a better team approach to care will assist aides to work smarter. When all staff answered call lights here, I felt calmer and secure knowing my light would be answered sooner. Many times I did not need an aide to assist me. A willing staff member could adjust my paper or move my keyboard and allow me to get back to work. Sometimes all we need is better communication between all staff to make the job easier for particular staff. Since aides are the work horses of long-term care, any assistance other staff can give will increase an aide’s job performance each day.

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