Monday, December 7, 2009

Caregiver Certification: why it matters to you

Joe was a stubborn old man. Set in his ways, determined to do what he wanted, when he wanted, he was not about to let some young “girl” come in and help him with a shower.

“I’ve tried everything I know to do,” said one.

“Nothing ever works with Joe!” said another.

“I’m going to try what I just learned in my caregiver class,” said the third of the three caregivers huddled in the hall.

They knew that Joe hadn’t bathed now in several days, and his out-of-town daughter was coming to visit that afternoon. It would reflect poorly on their care if Joe was clearly a little too musky for comfort – not to mention making it tough for the daughter to relax and enjoy the visit.

One hour later Joe emerged from the bathroom with slicked-back, shiny hair and the scent of fresh soap, instead of the reek of body odor. The successful caregiver also had a glow, knowing she had achieved what seemed impossible. Even more important, it had been a positive experience for both Joe and his caregiver.

All three caregivers had good hearts. All three wanted to be the best caregivers they could be. The difference? Good training that taught the one caregiver important skills that increased her ability to be the best caregiver possible.

For family members selecting an assisted living community or home care agency this is a crucial difference. Compassion and a big heart are still vital, but skills training brings it all together and gives the compassionate caregiver the tools to deliver what the family is looking for – and the person receiving care really needs.

Personal Care Aide (PCA) Certifications are just emerging as one form of caregiver certification that is uniquely designed to prepare the caregiver for home-style caregiving. They typically cover all the basic skills required for care, including skills in communication, decision-making and respect for the rights of the person in their care. They reinforce, through the training, principles of independence, choice, dignity and privacy. A caregiver learns to see challenges through the eyes of the client, and to include families in the unit of care.

Many community colleges offer this level of training; high-quality, comprehensive PCA Certification courses are also readily available online through distance education schools. Within the coming decade PCA Certification will likely become the minimum standard for all direct-care workers.

For now, it is one way for families to feel increased confidence that the person providing care has more than a good heart: she has skills and a unique understanding of the difference a good caregiver can make in enriching the lives of the people in her care.

If you’re looking for a quality online caregiver certification course check out the Personal Care Aide Certification course offered by the Institute for Professional Care Education ( IPC-ed is a school licensed by the Oregon Department of Education specifically dedicated to prepare individuals for work in care related professions.

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