Over the course of many years, there has been much debate on whether education is better than experience or vice versa. I am a firm believer (and you could disagree, no hurt feelings) that in life you need both. In order to do something, you need to be taught or you learn a skill/trade in order to execute into a level of proficiency. As time passes and you continue to execute the same skill or trade it becomes second nature which develops into the experience. By this point in time, you have already failed several times. Learned what to do and what not to do.
We are all born geniuses with the capacity for greatness, unfortunately, society sets limitations on what is “good”, “bad”, “do”, don’t do”, etc.
When it comes to the senior industry you must have that innate sense for the greater good, other than money and yourself. You must genuinely have a desire to care for others, not related to you, to offer peace, tranquility, safety, and sometimes even good humor. Aside from the internal settings that all humans carry, what are the fundamentals needed as a caregiver that an owner-operator dream of?
We all dream of the perfect staff. The perfect staff is a matter of perception and what is true in your reality to bring into existence.
My staff loved birthdays whether it’ll be their own or a Residents birthday. Why? Because I made it a point to go above and beyond. We would either go out to celebrate or I would bring the celebration to them. But I wanted the type of staff that was open to new ideas and events to bring forth. I could have not done it by myself, I needed everyone on board.
You want to be surrounded by people who care, who can see the vision and are amazing to work with. I’ve been blessed to have work with people that had all 3 traits.
The most important item of them all is Compliance. Compliance based on state standards. There is no debate or negotiations here. Either they have the criteria required by state or you, as an owner-operator, are liable for not staffing with adequacy. And that is final. If a state surveyor comes to your place to check out your employee files, and they do not have the training mandated by the state, you are in trouble.
At a High Level
Quick disclaimer: I DO NOT work for the state agency, nor do I represent any agencies to prove these are factual or ultimate. Please call or search for your state’s legal requirements when staffing caregivers for your ALF.
O.K., now that we got the icky stuff out of the way. Florida. Florida has had their shares of mishaps for a few years now. Which is why hiring the right experienced staff is crucial.
1 – They must have all required trainings completed and valid.
This might seem like an obvious pointer, but believe me there are people out there in the world that are under the impression that they do the training once, and they are set for life. This is an incorrect statement. All trainings must be completed yearly or every two years. Proof of completion if required.Depending if the caregiver is a Home Health Aide (HHA) or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), requirements for trainings may vary. Check with your state healthcare agency.
2 – Yearly Negative TB Exams
Their physical examination with a “Negative Tuberculosis” test, must not be 1 year or older. This is a test that must occur every year or your facility will be fined.I do know that participating Walgreens do skin tests for TB. If you staff member, if from another country, chances are that they have received a vaccine, in which case the skin test will always show ‘Positive’. The staff member may or may not know that they will need to obtain an X-Ray of their lungs with a signed statement from the physician, stating there is no sign of infection.
3 – CPR and 1st Aid Training
CPR and 1st Aid Training must be renewed yearly by an accredited institution backed the American Heart Association. CPR and 1st Aid trainings must be completed in person. No online certificates will be honored by the state.
The 3 points listed above are the basic criteria needed to even be considered for a Caregiver role. Do not take shortcuts, just because you know someone that has taken care of their grandmother for the last 5 years, with no credentials.
Years of Experience for me was a big one! Simply because if I wanted to hire someone, I wanted to make sure that this person:
a) Know more than me on the practicality of taking care of someone else.
b) Were well versed in the state laws of Do’s and Don’ts
c) Had been exposed to several seniors at one time vs had only cared for one senior at a time. THIS IS BIG! (You don’t believe me, compare a person that has only worked with 1 senior at a time compared to someone that has worked with 5 seniors at a time. And then you’ll tell me which one you’ll hire.)
d) The person is o.k. when dealing with uncomfortable situations, such as bowels, blood, vomit, panic attacks, sundowning, and just difficult behaviors.
This is why I sought exposure to several seniors throughout their careers, not just starting out.
So you see there is a level of education that is required to be even be considered for the Caregiver role, but the Experience is what makes the decision. I would have loved to hire caregivers or CNAs, with that had recently acquired their licenses. While it is great, many lacked the experience of dealing with seniors in such an environment of an ALF. That would be fine if you or the manager are on-site all-day and can supervisor and train as they work.
There is no right or wrong decision here, it is only a matter of acquiring the right players for the best role within your organization. Evaluate both wisely, don’t take any shortcuts, as shortcuts can become expensive!