Care workers should not be ‘Jacks of all trades’
By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON
Wouldn’t it be marvellous to have an open-ended training budget which included staff cover for when people were doing the courses, because there are lots of courses on offer; diabetes awareness, managing dysphagia, Parkinsons, glaucoma, macula degeneration, general sight loss, hearing loss, sarcopenia, apraxia, aphasia, renal dysfunction, skin care, dementia, end of life care, to name just a few in no particular order.
Knowledge is great, even if it’s just for it’s own sake, and where it can be applied it’s even more great, and there should always be blurred boundaries between professional disciplines as this facilitates two-way communication, but I think there is a danger that we might expect care workers to shoulder responsibilities that rightly should be borne by health professionals.
Care home residents tend to be getting on a bit and it’s a fair bet that they will suffer from one or more of the conditions mentioned above, and of course care workers should be taught about dementia, and potential problems regarding nutrition, hydration, skin integrity and the like. They should likewise be trained to be observant and to report changes in a resident’s condition. But we should not expect them to be diagnosticians, and we should not allow health services to duck their responsibilities to care home residents by setting up superficial courses on clinical practice. After all, ‘a little learning is a dangerous thing’.
I groan when I read that ‘only 20% of care home workers have been trained in recognising renal dysfunction’ or similar. That is not their role.
Well trained care workers have their own body of knowledge and professional expertise which enables them to deliver safe, compassionate, high quality care, and I would no more expect a care worker to explain apraxia to me than I would expect a physiotherapist to be acquainted with a resident’s childhood memories or dietary preferences.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.