What to Look for in Staff Training Part 4: Consumer Questions


  1. How does the staff interact with the residents?   Is there an overall climate of respect?
  2. Does the staff look content?   Are they rushed or irritated?
  3. Do they address the residents by their names?   Calling an elder “honey” or “sweetie” is not acceptable, unless that is the resident’s preferred nickname.
  4. How much training has the staff received?   Ask to see the training logs.  Do they have some measure of competency showing that not only did staff attend a training session, they actually understood the material?   Pressure ulcer prevention, elder abuse education and dementia care are essentials that all staff should master.
  5. How is training delivered?  Is it lecture or computer-based “PowerPoint”?  Is there a hands-on or a multimedia computer program that brings life to the training sessions?
  6. What is the staff turnover rate in the facility?   Is it more than 30% per year?  More than 50%?  How does this compare to other facilities in the region?
  7. Is there potential for good employees to move up the ladder?  How does good work get rewarded?

Until grassroots movements, like the Pioneer network or innovative business models, such as the Eden Alternative, spread throughout the country, the condition of eldercare in facilities will remain relatively unchanged and highly variable.    There is hope on the horizon however.  Person-centered care that is promoted by these “culture change” movements DO make a difference.

A key component of this change includes creative and innovate ways to train nursing home staff.   Reports in the medical literature show that interactive video staff training can increase training compliance by 300%, increase staff satisfaction by 200%, and reduce pressure ulcers by 75%. (1) What’s more, e-learning is becoming more accessible than ever, with many companies providing this type of training through the Web. Instead of being mandated to train for hours at a time, staff can take a couple minutes out of their busy day to complete a lesson. If they have access to a computer at home, they can sign in and work on training there. It gives the learner the freedom to chose, which has shown increased retention of knowledge and higher job satisfaction.

When choosing a nursing home, remember that the most important aspect of your decision are the people inside. Do not be shy about asking for the employee training processes.  Just like a surgeon has their medical degree framed on the wall, or a police officer wears a badge, or a driver has a license, so too should nursing homes show that their staff has been properly trained. Unfortunately, no agency has taken on this burden, so you must be the judge of how well the staff is ready to deal with your loved one.  Be sure that the facility where you place your loved one is using the most modern and innovative solutions for staff training, since this has been clinically proven to reduce staff turnover and greatly improve the quality of care.

If you wish to learn more about the cutting edge in staff education AND family education, visit www.foxlearningsystems.com

About the Author: Debra Fox is the CEO of Fox Learning Systems and a long-time veteran of elder care staff training.  A former television anchor, Debra pioneered the use of interactive documentary techniques to improve training and elder care quality.


  1. Rosen, J., Mittal, V., Degenholtz, H., Castle, N., Mulsant, B. H., Hulland, S. et al. (2006b). Ability, Incentives, and Management Feedback: Organizational Change to Reduce Pressure Ulcers in a Nursing Home. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 7, 141-146.

  • http://safehavenseniorfamilyhome Katie

    Excellent blog. I am always concerned about training of staff, especially since it not only benefits the elders, but the staff as well. When I cared for an elderly lady as a live in and also had 5 other caregivers that I supervised, my biggest concern was how much they knew and how much more I could teach them. I ordered books and downloaded things as well to teach them. Memo’s were also placed in their open file holder to read, and then sign that they read it. Later discussions entailed of what they read and their responses. (Great way to know if they had indeed read what I thought was important and their views as well.)

    Calling an elder sweetie, darling, honey, etc., I did not even know was damaging until I saw a video on it. I had a member of the care team that did this. This immediately stopped once I explained it to them and had them watch the video, and the reason why it was inappropriate. They had no idea that they were doing anything wrong. And once it stopped, a major difference between the elder and caregiver was evident.

    I am so thankful that so much can be found on the Internet concerning all the things mentioned in this blog, and links given. Caregivers have a major job, and I understand ulcers can happen with it. The more knowledge they have, the happier they will be and the elders as well. Thanks Ryan.

    Now off to check the link to learn more.