July 21, 2008
Training Programs Care for the Caregiver
By Stowe, Gene
Memorial Home Care will offer a series of training programs this summer for family members who care for loved ones, with education on everything from nutrition to changing bed linens and helping patients out of bed.
Liz Walker, director of staffing services, says the service wants to help those who look after people in the hours not covered by home care professionals. A pilot program with five sessions ran last summer.
"We have lots of patients who are receiving services from us for a couple of hours a day," she says. When we leave, they have a family member responsible for their care."
The family members, often an elderly spouse, have little or no training in how to perform the needed care. Memorial has developed six lunch-and-learn programs - 2 1/2 hours including lunch - to help answer the most common questions and address the most common problems-that families face.
Last summer's session also provided an opportunity for caregivers to relate to others in similar situations, with many exchanging phone numbers and hanging around to chat.
"It's such a great networking tool, because they are all in the same boat in some fashion," Walker says. "A lot of these care- givers don't get out much." The topics are:
* Ambulation and transfer.
Caregivers learn how to help patients get in and out of bed, or from the bed to a chair or wheelchair. Lifting must insure both the patient's safety and the caregiver's health - don't drop the patient, and don't hurt your back.
The session also introduces pieces of equipment that help in the transfer, such as sliding boards, as well as ambulation equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs and quad canes.
* Bathing of dependent or infirm patients.
The instruction includes caring for those who are not mobile and might need their hair washed while in bed. It includes bathroom safety and infection control.
* Turning and repositioning of patients to avoid bedsores and enhance skin health.
In addition to demonstrating different turning techniques, the session shows how to change bed linens while the patient is in bed. It includes other factors, including nutrition- right foods, plenty of fluids - and exercises to maintain skin health
* Home medical equipment and adaptive devices,
The session includes a tour of the retail store and includes gadgets such as the "grabber," a long stick with a hook on the end for picking up trash, pulling up socks or performing other tasks without bending over.
* Safety in the home.
The session includes medication setup and monitoring, development of an emergency response system, cooking safety, clear pathways and emergency contact information
* Disease management.
This class, added since the pilot, includes the top five to eight conditions that might afflict patients, including diabetes and cardiac problems, pneumonia and high blood pressure.
Classes cost $60 each, and participants can choose the ones that would most benefit them. This summer's classes are July 8, 10, 14, 16, 25 and 28. The agency has trained aides for 15 years - "We know how to do it," Walker says.
In addition to lectures and handouts, she says, "We demonstrate all the skills. By the time they leave here, they know what. they're doing," with participants practicing with each other.
"We're also offering to follow them home. They get the confidence they're doing it right. All they want is to provide excellent care to their loved ones."
To contact Memorial Home Care, call (574) 273-2273.
Copyright South Bend Tribune Corporation Jun 23, 2008
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