Why Staff Training in Assisted Living is a High Priority


Recruiting high-caliber job candidates is the first step in ensuring the quality of staffing at a senior living community. Effective and ongoing training is the second step, which is equally as important as the first.

At Benchmark Senior Living, employees are required to undergo a specified number of training hours annually. Requirements vary from state to state, but Benchmark trains to the highest state requirement across all of its communities regardless of where the community is located. That ensures that every location adheres to the highest standard and there is a continuity of quality for all locations in all states.

For specialized disciplines, staff goes through the required training programs to ensure that residents’ needs are met. In memory care, for example, directors are expected to earn their certified dementia practitioner certifications. Many of the executive directors have earned their certification through Argentum is the leading national trade association serving companies that own, operate and support professionally managed senior living communities in the U.S. 

Those who are considering several senior living options for their loved one should realize that quality care comes with a cost. The best senior living communities are those that have invested in superior training and staffing levels. They have also put a lot of time, effort, and money into ensuring a higher level of satisfaction for its employees in the form of better pay, benefits and working conditions with the goal of producing higher retention rates for the ultimate benefit of residents. 

Keeping all those considerations in mind, many families will likely conclude that it’s worth the extra cost to ensure that their loved one is living in a community that has a more caring, responsive staff who are likely to stay for the long-term and develop a relationship with the residents rather than moving on.

Quality of Care

Quality of care is a major issue at senior living providers, and it is only achieved by those who make a commitment to go above and beyond the minimum requirements.

For example, quality senior living providers like Benchmark staff according to their residents’ needs versus a pre-set ratio. Why is this important? Because it’s a recognition that not all residents have the same level of need. For high-need residents, a ratio of one-to-ten may be inadequate. The key is to ensure that the resident is being cared for, and that means a willingness to be flexible about ratios in a way that ultimately ensures better care and attention for the residents who need it.

Benchmark Senior Living has established a benchmark regarding its Quality of Residential Services (QRS). To ensure a high QRS, the company has implemented a policy of doing inspections of its own communities as a precursor to the annual state inspection. The purpose of these inspections is to ensure that any challenges or issues are identified early, and thus corrective actions can be taken in a timely manner. This ensures that the state inspections go smoothly and essentially acts as a verification that Benchmark is already meeting or exceeding the standards of care required.

“It’s all about quality,” Tim R. says. “Our goal is to ensure that we meet the major points that a regulator might look for.  But we’re also reinforcing our own Benchmark standards.  We've set standards and policies and put best practices in place, and we want to ensure that the community is following them, again for quality reasons, for safety reasons, for regulatory reasons.”

Another aspect of quality of care is the stability of the community in adapting to the changing needs of its residents. As an example, if a resident’s needs change from being fully ambulatory to needing a walker, or eventually going from a walker to a wheelchair, Benchmark will accommodate those needs. Not all senior living communities will do so. It’s peace of mind for residents to know that their community will not require them to move out in the event that their circumstances change. For many, quality of care is exemplified by continuity they can depend on.

Stay tuned for more tips and insights at Open Conversations. 
Want to share a comment or ask question: openconversations@benchmarkquality.com
Content for Open Conversations was developed in partnership with Caregiving Advice.

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