Connections - 11.30.20

Helping People Live the GoodLife Starts with Collaborative Staff Training

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by Staff Writers at GoodLife Innovations

GoodLife is always looking for ways to better understand how to train and support our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). One way we do this is by conducting applied research through the University of Kansas Performance Management Laboratory, directed by Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed. We are sharing the types of training GoodLife provides to our staff and why this partnership with KU is critical for success and in hopes it may help other providers.

GoodLife created a three-prong training program which is made up of (1) online training, followed by (2) a five-day in-class pre-service workshop (PSW), and finally (3) on-the-job shadow training. The online training lays a foundation of understanding through 11 modules covering different topics, such as medication passing, driving safety and procedures, and HIPAA and OSHA compliance.

PSW builds on this foundation with more in-depth topics such as SafetyCare; lifts and transfers; Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation; CPR / First Aid; Behavioral Teaching and Analysis; and GoodLife’s mission and ideal outcomes, which include rapport building, medication management, data collection, and how to use GoodLife iLink technology.

Finally, shadow training is two full shifts on the floor of a residential home and includes in-home and day-services training opportunities.

Ultimately, we want our DSPs to feel as prepared as possible to provide the best support possible before they even walk through the door of one of our homes. It’s important they have a strong understanding of the situations that may arise day to day. This mix of training helps us support the different ways people learn and connect with information.

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things when it comes to training. It’s also given us a unique perspective of our programs to understand what is most effective. To reduce exposure and help protect the many people we support who experience fragile health situations, we shortened the amount of time new staff were in class. We changed in-class training to two days and eliminated job shadowing, making the bulk of training online.

However, because the nature of a DSP’s job is situational and relational, we have learned staff don’t feel as equipped with this new format. Therefore, as we understand more about how we can safely be together, we are reintroducing in-person training to rebalance safety in training with safety within our residential homes.

In partnership with the University of Kansas (KU), we conduct a full day of Behavioral Teaching and Analysis training. Here, KU graduate students spend time discussing topics such as why people supported engage in certain behaviors, how to respond to and redirect a challenging behavior, how to encourage positive behaviors, how to teach people new skills and independence in the most appropriate manner, and how to control oneself in the face of behaviors. We talk about the psychology of the people we serve and the best ways to support them. We can cover all of this online, but we have learned that workshopping and practicing different scenarios with real-time feedback and discussion in a classroom is so much more meaningful. Since we can’t be in every home all of the time, the greatest thing we can do is train staff with extensive tools to make safe, smart, and caring decisions.

Our society tends to undervalue caring for vulnerable populations. At GoodLife, this is our priority. Each component of our training is designed to give the people we support the best opportunities to live full and independent lives, to equip and educate caregivers with the tools necessary to support individuals with special needs, and to keep everyone safe—staff included. GoodLife is incredibly lucky to have KU involved in our workforce development. Dr. DiGennaro Reed’s team provides fresh eyes, so we are continuously evaluating if what we are doing could be done in a better or more effective way. Together, we are training the next generation that will need the skills to deliver care. Our training staff is small and so is our capacity. Having access to a team gives us extra hands to develop new training curricula and materials.

In all, collaboration is vital for GoodLife to be able to grow, expand, and improve how we provide meaningful care to individuals with I/DD.

Content provided by Staff Writers at GoodLife Innovations. Are you interested in finding out how GoodLife can help your organization? For more information about workforce development and stability contact Megan Todd or visit GoodLife’s website.