Area Agency on Aging of NW Arkansas Increased Caregiver Training Completions by 2X from Previous Year with CareAcademy

The Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas will commit financial and human resources to enhance the lives of the Northwest Arkansas senior and elderly community. We provide a wide variety of services to the community.

A private, non-profit organization that has been serving seniors in Counties in Northwest Arkansas since 1979. We also provide services to Military Veterans and persons with disabilities.

This private, non-profit organization was ready to turn in their intensive in-person training for an online approach to onboarding new employees to their team. Ultimately, they were able to train more caregivers over time and use CareAcademy as a recruiting tool to get more candidates in the door.

Area Agency on Aging is a private, non-profit organization serving the elderly communities in nine counties across Northwest Arkansas. Their broad range of services includes care coordination, family caregiver support programs, housing, in-home assistance, emergency response devices, adult day services, and they also employ older workers.

They also have several Senior Activity Centers in the region to offer seniors the opportunity to participate in health and wellness programs, socialize with other seniors, and enjoy meals together. AAANWAR was founded as part of the Older Americans Act of 1965, which provided funding for states to offer comprehensive services for older adults. They opened their doors in 1973 with three employees and have since grown to over 50 full-time employees and over 300 home care aides actively servicing the elderly across nine branch locations.

Bringing an in-person training experience online

Renee Gonzalez, who currently oversees in-home care services across all nine counties, has been with AAANWAR for nearly 10 years and currently leads in-home care services. Part of her duties include managing the training programs used to educate their caregivers.

Before partnering with CareAcademy, the 40-hour new hire training consisted of five day-long, instructor-led sessions each month. The first three days were lecture style, and the final two days were hands-on skill checks where caregivers demonstrated their learnings and worked with seniors in their service area.

Each month, their training registered nurse traveled across regions to deliver the hands-on training. While this method was comprehensive, it presented challenges in caregiver retention. Because each training occurred monthly, many trainees had to wait for the next session to begin. During the waiting period, they’d often find new jobs to get to work faster and not move forward with employment at AAANWAR.

AAANWAR’s partnership with CareAcademy allowed them to bring their training almost entirely online, allowing more caregivers to start training at their convenience and on their own time. They no longer had to wait for the next training to begin, sacrifice other jobs, or time spent with loved ones.

“A person who wants to be a caregiver for a family member who also has a full-time job can’t just take a week off work for caregiver training and not get paid for it. It’s a big obstacle for people. Allowing people to train online gives them time to do it at home after they’ve finished their day-to-day activities,” said Renee.

Before using CareAcademy, from January to July of 2020, they were able to enroll 25 caregivers to be trained and hired, with 23 completing the training. That’s only 23 newly trained caregivers across six months! After implementing CareAcademy, they were able to enroll 19 caregivers, with 15 of them completing their training—in just two months!

Online training as a recruiting tool

Like many agencies, AAANWAR has found it challenging to recruit caregivers. Navigating a competitive market, they had to find creative ways to appeal to potential candidates. One of the tactics they used to increase applicants was simply marketing that their training could be done online, from anywhere. By leveraging this as a benefit for applicants on their Facebook page and other recruiting platforms, the increase they saw in the applicants was amazing.

“When we started marketing that our training is online, we’ve seen more applications come through than we have in a long time. In January alone, we had 12 people enroll in the training. That’s twice as many that we had last year in the same time frame,” said Renee.

High-quality, in-depth training content

Before working with CareAcademy, AAANWAR’s training programs were mostly lecture-style content. “There’s so much physical interaction that happens, so having video visuals is important,” said Renee.

She explained that the depth and quality of the content about communicating with seniors, and the level of specificity around the techniques used for caring for people with certain diseases, is a game-changer. “If you’re a 19 or 20-year-old coming out of high school to care for a 70 or 80-year-old person, there is a huge generational gap. CareAcademy has put a lot of thought into these types of things,” Renee said. “The content is amazing.”

With CareAcademy, AAANWAR has found a solution to some of the challenges they faced with in-person training tactics. Even though moving to a fully online training model occurred as a result of the devastation of the global pandemic, it will continue to have tangible effects on their long-term training goals, recruiting, and client outcomes.

In addition to their uptick in caregiver applicants and increased training completions, we can’t leave out the kudos from a tenured employee regarding required continuing education. Check out the quote from one of their team members below!

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