Nate Hamme

Insights on Caregiver Training, Retention, and Organizational Culture

In caregiving, where kindness and skill come together, the way caregivers are trained and the environment they work in are incredibly important. Training teaches necessary skills and shapes how caregivers approach their work with empathy and commitment. Unfortunately, many caregiver agencies struggle to provide effective training, affecting how well clients are cared for and how satisfied they are with the service they receive.

That’s why we reached out to Nate Hamme, the President and Executive Director of Ceca Foundation, to shed light on this crucial aspect of caregiving and offer insights into how caregiver agencies can enhance their training efforts and create a more supportive work environment for their caregivers.

Q. From your observations, what impact does caregiver training have on client outcomes and overall satisfaction with care?

Training is essential to driving better experiences and outcomes. It is important to follow an organization’s policies and procedures, set expectations about mindset and behaviors, and build an organization’s culture.

Certifications, education, and competency are often assumed for new hires, but increasingly, we are seeing organizations make the strategic decision to hire with heart and enthusiasm to ensure their human resources stick around. Effective training should be clear and drive engagement–when people know their responsibilities and what’s expected, they are much more likely to be put in a position to succeed.

Success drives esteem, and esteem from their managers and peers drives a feeling of belonging. Those are two absolutely critical components of an engaged workforce. Employee engagement correlates most directly to better outcomes and patient/resident satisfaction. Taking the time to teach and LISTEN to your employees greatly impacts whether they feel like they are part of a team and are satisfied in their job–which will drive satisfaction from those they serve.

Q. In your experience, what are the most common areas where caregiver agencies fall short in their training efforts, and how can they address these gaps?

Training should be more than best practices, processes, and techniques for doing the job. It should be training to care and project positivity. It is tough work–no two ways about it. Caring for another person too often means sacrificing care for oneself.

  • What sort of resources do you have to support people who are feeling burned out?
  • How are you celebrating them so they know they are doing important work and making a difference for your clients?

Clearly, we must ensure caregivers have the skills and tools to succeed, but those educational resources are largely available. Ensure you go through it with them. And, in the best case, ensure they have someone to learn alongside so they have someone to lean on and relate to.

“Culture is the #1 thing for increasing caregiver retention, and ultimately, caregiver recognition will fill their tank.”

– Nate Hamme

Q. How do you recommend caregiver agencies foster a supportive work environment that prioritizes caregiver well-being and prevents burnout?

The importance of employee recognition and celebrating people and their successes is often overlooked as a strategic imperative. What you talk about and celebrate is what you value. When something goes well, it should be talked about. Often, the focus is on shortcomings–dwelling on and litigating even small failures. Employer-employee is not a transaction but a relationship between partners. As the saying goes, “The best relationships aren’t built on partners mostly telling each other what’s wrong. They’re built on partners mostly telling each other what’s right.”

A comprehensive employee appreciation and recognition program is essential to show employees that you see their efforts, impact, and successes. When they are noticed, they will look to replicate those behaviors because they crave that positive feeling.

Q. What role does organizational culture play in caregiver retention, and how can agencies cultivate a positive and supportive culture that encourages longevity?

Culture “eats strategy for breakfast”.

It’s so big that people often think it’s nearly impossible to impact quickly, like trying to turn around a cruise ship. The good news (and the bad news) is that it’s an everyday effort. It’s the sum of all interactions between your employees and those you serve. Creating a positive culture means being attentive to people’s needs. Listen to what they tell you instead of only barking orders.

This also means that you must ask important questions–not just their date of birth and where to send their paychecks.

  • Why did they go into this line of work?
  • What are their goals in this position? In their career?
  • How do they like to be shown appreciation–words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time?
  • Would they like to set a regular schedule for touching base to address issues and talk about achievements?

Culture is the #1 thing for increasing caregiver retention, and ultimately, caregiver recognition will fill their tank to ensure they have the internal motivation and resilience they need to succeed in a difficult industry.

Wrapping Up

With Nate Hamme’s insights, it’s clear that effective training and a supportive work environment are key to caregiving. When caregivers are well-trained and feel supported, it positively impacts their performance and the satisfaction of those they care for. Overall, this Expert Q&A was refreshing. As much as we enjoyed reading it, we hope you will find it insightful.


Get to Know the Expert Better

Nate Hamme

Nate Hamme

Nate Hamme, President and Executive Director of Ceca Foundation, is a prominent expert in healthcare worker engagement. With extensive experience across various healthcare sectors, including hospitals, senior living, and home care, Nate specializes in innovative approaches to engage care providers. He has developed impactful metrics to measure program success. He is a prolific writer and speaker on staffing and retention issues in care communities, with features in major publications like McKnight’s Senior Living and Modern Healthcare and appearances on ABC News7.

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