How upskilling can improve patient care in home healthcare

Latha Rao, Head-Human Resources, Nightingales Home Health Services, speaks about the importance of specialised skills for specialised homecare.
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Skilling has always been part of every organisation’s essential requirement for their employees. In the current scenario, with people working from home and increased exposure to digital space, companies are investing in upskilling their employees to ensure continuity of work and to match the current needs of the market.

Many companies believe that the best way to retain employees, especially in the current scenario, is by helping them acquire new skills to take on challenging roles.

These upskilling programmes become even more important for employees who have spent considerable time in the company.

The talent team in every organisation should regularly undertake SWOT analysis of their employees to identify the gaps in their skills. This not only helps them acquire new skills but also makes them more confident to take on new challenges and roles.

In the field of home healthcare, upskilling has emerged as one of the key ways to ensure better quality of care. Over the last decade, home healthcare has tremendously evolved with many clinically complex services now being offered in the comfort of one’s home. Initially, home healthcare started off with primary care for lifestyle diseases, specialised care and wellness at home.

However, in the pandemic world, home healthcare for critical, and intensive care at home services, have seen higher demand. All these services require paramedics and clinical staff who are highly qualified, equipped, and trained to handle regular and special care services.

These professionals are typically trained through work experiences in hospitals or internships in diagnostic or wellness centres. Whether it’s rehabilitation, speech therapy, caregiving, or nursing, these professionals must continuously enhance their skills in order to meet the changing needs of the patients, and to ensure highest quality of care.

Specialised skills for specialised care

One of the areas in home healthcare where most professionals require additional skills is specialised care. Though most professionals are equipped to handle regular bedside care, there is a need to provide specialised caregiving for geriatric/dementia care, end of life care and companionship care. There is an additional level of training required for caregivers to handle these specialised offerings.

When hired initially, most of these professionals are sensitised and trained for regular bedside care services. As they acquire regular caregiving experience, they tend to understand the intricacies in specialised care and the skills required to cater to these patients. It also gives them an understanding of the kind of care they would like to be upskilled with.

To cater to the increasing demand of home care, we must first ensure that home healthcare professionals are equipped with the right skills to deal with the needs of the patients. Upskilling can help healthcare professionals in the following ways -

Confidence

Home healthcare workers who are novices in the field may initially feel overwhelmed when they have to handle all procedures independently. Without on ground presence of supervisors, they may feel under confident to manage complications, if any.

For example, paramedics such as nursing, rehab, and even doctors may be used to a typical hospital care setting. When they join home healthcare, they may require training exclusively on home healthcare protocols, processes, and procedures. Even in the clinical segment today, there are lots of new, varied, and additional skills required.

These could be either trained externally through specialty hospitals, training centres or internally through medical research and services team, IT, and quality team. The right skills can provide healthcare professionals the required confidence to handle patients all by themselves and address any complications that arise.

Empathy

Home healthcare is not merely about providing high quality of care. It’s also about empathising with the patient’s condition, and communicating effectively with the patient and their family members. In addition to training them on job related skills, home healthcare companies must spend enough time in providing psychological and behavioural skills to the professionals.

Since they are forced to deal with a range of emotions of the patient as well as the family members, home healthcare companies should provide enhanced communication training that can help them support the patients better.

A clear career path

Through upskilling, home healthcare professionals also get a clear-cut picture about where their interest lies. As they gain more experience in their current role, home healthcare companies can develop niche career paths and enable them to move along these paths.

Upskilling in home healthcare requires a different approach compared to other industries. It involves a more hands-on and customised training without compromising on care. Home Healthcare is not just focused on clinical training but also emphasises a lot on non-clinical training as well.

Since these jobs require confidence and preparedness to deliver services all alone with only remote help from supervisors and specialists, employees need enough support to ensure their mental, physical and psychological well-being is taken care of.

To do this, home healthcare companies can engage with employees virtually and train them on softer skills as well. It’s not just essential for the growth and upliftment of the employees but also for the organisation to address attrition in the current times. Retaining the best talent and ensuring continuity of care can in turn save time and effort in hiring new resources. Good talents are rarely found, and therefore the best talent needs to be created within the organisation.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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