Today in the State of Washington I'd have to get over 70 hours of training, and after my first year take 12 hours of continuing education courses to stay certified in the State of Washington. In the State of Idaho, there are no requirements, outside of getting your CPR certification. Which is good, but it isn't the quality of training and education that you would get in Washington State and the Training Partnership they have with SEIU 775. In the Washington State training you learn everything you would need to know to give quality and safe care to your clients. It's this training that makes Washington Home Care Aides so good at their jobs. Learning how to roll a person on their side when you need to clean them up or when you need to get them dressed is important because if you do it wrong then you run the risk of injuring your client or yourself. If you don't know how to give a bed path you could miss an important spot, or you could even hurt your client by doing something incorrectly.
Training is important because without out it you could miss important signs that your client's condition may have changed. For example, if your client is starting to forget things more often, or if they think it's a different year that it actually is, or if they are suddenly not putting weight on one of their legs because of a fall. These things are the signs we have to look out for, because it's in the interest of your client to be aware of their well being. You have to know when your client is getting pressure sores, or when they are having a hard time keeping down solid food. The only way you'll know what to look for is if you've had the training to look for the signs.
The current State of Idaho requirements for training is as follows.
... All PCAs must be successfully trained in specific competencies set forth in the “Idaho Skills Matrix.” The matrix lists required competencies and the person or entity responsible for verification. PCAs must pass a written examination and demonstrate competency in each listed task. Each employer determines the methods used to train and assess PCA competencies. ...In my experience that means that the Agency will give you the test, give you the book and tell you it's an open book test. I have yet to see any Agency require you to show that you learned anything or that you are competent in any skills. They fulfill the requirement, however they don't do it very well and they try to do it without spending any money on the training. At one Home Care Agency they have DVDs that could have been made in the 90's and they only wanted you to watch the most basic parts that they felt you might need. At another agency they get you to fill out all the paperwork and then ask you if you need training on anything, if you say no, then they just send you on your merry way. However that's only after they make sure you know how to wash your hands properly.
Training is not the priority of the Home Care Agencies or even the State of Idaho. Making a profit is the agency's primary concern, getting providers and the lowest cost is the State's primary concern. They don't care about our safety, which is why the only have cheap gloves that you have to double up on when you're using them. They don't care if we get injured because they view us as disposable and they feel they can replace us anytime they need or want to do so. We need to make it clear to them that we deserve more and that we have value and worth, and that sweeping us aside when it's convenient for them is bad business.
One of the priorities of #UnionizeIdaho is to force the agencies and the State of Idaho to provider better training to reduce injuries and to create a safer work environment for Home Care Aides. The only way we are going to be able to do that is by joining together in one voice and proclaiming that we deserve more than to be viewed as a disposable work force.