Staff must play residents’ role

Donna Pierpoint
Donna Pierpoint
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Last month we gave our staff the most important training a care home could ever provide.

We put them in the shoes of residents – the people they’re employed to care for.

Broomgrove nursing staff, for one day, felt what it was like to lose every scrap of independence and dignity they’d ever known.

They were left wholly reliant on someone else to feed them, dress them, wash them – right down to having someone else clean their teeth.

They were even blindfolded to give the experience of blindness.

Staff were stunned after the experience. They said it was one of the most powerful role-play exercises they’d ever taken part in. One said: ‘It really opened our eyes on how it feels to be dependent on someone else. It’s awful having your independence taken away.’

I see this kind of training as vital. I don’t know how a member of staff could ever have true empathy with a resident without it.

Residents have been wholly supportive of it. As they said in a recent residents meeting: “There’s no better training than being in our shoes.”

Amazingly, this is not classed as the kind of training care homes have to deliver. I insist on it as I think it’s absolutely essential, vital training.

In my view, the training policies of too many homes focus on statutory subjects only. The buzz phrase in the industry is ‘e-learning’. That’s where staff are trained in care via a computer programme.

How is staring at a computer going to train in giving residents care that’s truly sympathetic to their needs?

I feel that the most important training subjects are ‘safeguarding’, ‘manual handling’ and ‘person-centred care’. At Broomgrove these are delivered as interactive training and this truly makes a difference.

There’s no doubt training provision for the majority of care home workers is not going in the right direction. While in some circumstances there may be a case for computer-based learning, there are times it has to be with real people.

It’s the job of carers to enhance the lives of residents and they can’t do that if they don’t know what it feels like to be dependent on someone else.