Caregivers Need Extended Skills
With complex health conditions and the infusion of new home care technologies, community health care (CHC) often requires specialized skills - skills that are often not addressed in basic training programs.
For example, medication administration is often a missing component in the education of health care support workers but it is a vital skill in many settings. Medication errors are a major cause of injury across all health care settings.
Beside assistance in activities of daily living, people requiring CHC also need caregivers who are skilled in:
- Ostomy care (gastrostomy, jejunostomy, ileostomy, colonoscopy, tracheostomy)
- Mechanical breathing support (ventilator, CPap, BiPap)
- Alternative nutritional support i.e. enteral feeding via gastrostomy tube
- Wound care
- Seizure management
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, dysphagia, and increased risk for aspiration
- Chronic disease management (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, neurological disease, dementias)
- Infection care and treatment
- Recognizing subtle changes in a person’s health status
- Emergency and contingency care with acute changes in health status i.e.
Public and private CHC organizations struggle with this serious skill gap. Those that invest significantly in caregiver education are often hampered by time constraints and limited resources.
Results vary. Only the largest organizations have the resources to meet this need – classrooms, qualified educators and necessary funding. Yet, accessibility challenges with in-class training persist – when do caregivers find the time?