How do your more experienced and professional staff mentor new staff?

We pair all new staff with an experienced veteran staff for a training experience that we call “shadowing.” Shadowing involves working side by side with the veteran staff, who will explain everything that’s being done as it is happening. Through shadowing, additional questions can be answered that new staff might not think to ask in the “classroom” setting, such as who, what, where, when, and why. For example, it’s much easier to understand and remember where certain supplies are stored if those supplies are being shown by the veteran staff in person. More importantly, veteran staff know our individuals…their likes and dislikes, their behavioral triggers, and the special nuances that must be known and understood in order to make the experience enjoyable and stress-free for the individual and the staff. It’s more practical to pass that information in person at the site of service working with the individuals, instead of talking about them in another location. “Shadowing” is not just for new caregiver staff, it’s also helpful for new professional staff…such as for nurses and case workers, who can sit down at computers, charts, medical records, etc. with veteran nurses and case workers to be shown how processes work and documents are written. Of course, “shadowing” will never fully take the place of traditional classroom-style training…but is absolutely necessary to provide the hands-on training that is essential for turning out well trained new employees. And, of course, we welcome family members to be part of the training process to whatever extent they wish; we know that in some more medically complex cases, for example, an involved family member can provide input from a unique perspective that is so helpful.

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