Parkinson's Training for Caregiving Staff

Right at Home Southwest Florida Trains Entire Caregiving Staff

With Parkinson’s disease on the rise, Right at Home Southwest Florida is partnering with the Parkinson’s Foundation to provide ongoing training for Right at Home’s entire caregiving staff. This training will help improve care and support for Right at Home clients with Parkinson’s and their families.

Parkinson’s disease is the second-leading neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. Today, 1 million people live with Parkinson’s disease in the United States, and that number is expected to increase by 20% by 2030, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

“At Right at Home, we want to give our caregivers a deeper understanding of the challenges their clients are facing, including living with Parkinson’s disease,” said Danielle Dyer, owner of Right at Home Southwest Florida.

Since 2018, Right at Home Southwest Florida had been providing Parkinson’s caregiver training under the Struthers Parkinson’s support program, which is now the newly expanded Parkinson’s Foundation training program, Community Partners in Parkinson’s Care, designed for senior living communities and home care agencies. The new program was announced in January 2022 and requires a minimum of 70% of all care staff to complete the training, but the Right at Home office in Bonita Springs has elected to add this training to their orientation for all caregivers.

“Providing this nationally recognized training program sets our caregivers apart,” said Dyer. “They are more understanding, empathetic and patient than untrained caregivers. This is one of many ways for us to spread the word and educate others who are unaware of the simple cues to help their clients with Parkinson’s.”

Dyer, along with Yhanna Brea, Managing Director and Jennifer Thomas, Personnel Director attended two full days of instruction. In turn, they trained their entire care team. Training covers aspects of the disease, how the disease affects movement, cues for support, assistance with daily living tasks, and changes in communication and thinking.

“Our staff are quizzed twice a year and retrained in the Parkinson’s training on an annual basis,” said Dyer. “We’ve trained more than 705 caregivers to date. We also ask our staff to share everything they’ve learned with families and friends.”

While not all of Dyer’s clients have Parkinson’s or dementia, this training provides guidance to help everyone they serve. In particular, the program emphasizes medication timing and persistent patience.

Many people need medication reminders, but for those with Parkinson’s, the person must receive medication within a 10-minute window of the scheduled time. Caregivers set alarms on their cellphones to ensure the client adheres to their health care provider’s care plan. Caregivers also respond to any changes in the client’s condition and report the changes to the family—this practice is carried out for all clients.

The training also stresses patience and healthy persistence. This is a best practice for any client, but for those with Parkinson’s, it can be just as critical as medication timing. The training provides tools to help caregivers coach clients to stay as active as possible and highlights this key takeaway: “The more you do, the more you can do. The less you do, the less you can do.”

Right at Home Southwest Florida provides personalized in-home care plans for families looking for care and support for a loved one. Services include companionship, light housekeeping, medication reminders, and assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting and transportation.

And it is not just about taking care of older adults. Right at Home Southwest Florida provides respite care to give family caregivers the relief they need. Respite care provided by Right at Home professional caregivers may be scheduled for a few hours a week to 24-hour care.

If a family is considering in-home care services for their loved one with Parkinson’s or dementia, Dyer recommends choosing an agency that has caregivers who are trained to care for the person’s unique needs. Also, the family should ask the agency whether its caregivers are insured and whether the agency conducts background checks on its caregivers. Most importantly, the family should be able to trust the agency to care for their loved one.

If you would like to schedule a free in-home care assessment with Right at Home Southwest Florida, contact the office at 239-949-1070.

Danielle Dyer
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