In some jurisdictions, training for new direct care workers is allowed by using current employees to impart skill and policy to the new employee. This is called shadowing. While this can be an effective means of familiarizing someone with routines and policy, there is a scary element.
First there is never a guarantee that the more seasoned employee will impart best practices exactly as dictated by the employer or licensing rules. This is a special concern. Further, far too often the more seasoned staff may have specific shortcuts they employ in the execution of their duties and will pass these on to the new employee. As a result both regulatory compliance and resident safety could be compromised.
Retired regulator, Ms. Cheryl Livingston, MSW, who worked for more than 30 years in a state department that licenses adult foster care providers added this to the risky nature of shadowing: “Often a licensing department may use very generic language about how an employer may use a more experienced employee to train new people. However, that experienced employee is typically a direct care worker themselves and not an experienced, clinical professional or educator. Additionally, the same state government that says ‘its ok for a direct care worker to be used to train new staff’ does not issue an outline of any type for the employer to use as a guideline for the shadowing process. This adds to the scariness.”
Of course, this blog is not used to disparage practices that could help all of us to be more effective in people development. This applies to adult day care and residential care environments. However, in this highly litigious society in which we live its more than appropriate to give thought to whether or not we are prepared for backlash that might come from the actions of an employee whom some attorney will claim was never properly prepared for the job. Smart employers measure risk every day!
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