On average, staff from CLASS’s Attendant Care Program, referred to as direct-care workers, spend more time with participants than any other support workers including, nurses, physicians, and case workers/service coordinators. Although Direct Care Workers provide non-medical assistance, one of the direct-care worker’s most important responsibilities is carefully observing changes in the consumer’s condition or environment.
On March 9, 2014, Sandra, a direct-dare worker from CLASS, arrived at Mr. Johnson’s home and noticed that he was slurring his words and having trouble moving his arm. Sandra immediately recognized that Mr. Johnson was showing signs of a stroke. Sandra immediately called 911 and then alerted CLASS to report her observation regarding Mr. Johnson’s condition. EMTs arrived and immediately transported Mr. Johnson to the hospital. Doctors did determine that Mr. Johnson had experienced a stroke. Sandra’s thorough observations and quick actions enabled
Mr. Johnson to get treatment before the stroke caused permanent impairment.
While it is important to note that CLASS does not provide medical care, CLASS takes great pride to ensure that direct care workers receive valuable training to promote the well-being and overall health of individuals receiving supports through the Attendant Care Program. Sandra completed the CLASS PHI Direct Care Worker Training. Throughout the training Direct Care Workers were reminded of the importance of Observing, Recording, and Reporting (ORR) changes in a participant’s physical condition. A portion of the training focused on body systems and common diseases, with the goal that direct care workers would gain a basic understanding of how the body works in order to better understand health, diseases, and the role of the direct-care worker in supporting the health and wellness of participants they serve.
Through a grant from the United Way of Allegheny County, CLASS offered the PHI Direct Care Worker Training from 2011-2014 to any direct-care worker, not just CLASS staff. The project provided over 40 hours of training to more than 300 direct-care workers from ten different organizations. The training consisted of 21 different modules centered around topics for personal care workers. Several topics include concepts of direct care, body mechanics, common diseases, communication skills, respecting differences, how to assist people with activities for daily living using a person-centered approach, abuse and neglect, time and stress management, and more.
Although the project concluded, CLASS has incorporated much of the training into new staff orientation and annual training in hopes that direct-care workers like Sandra continue to have the skills necessary to provide a high quality of care to participants in CLASS’s Attendant Care Program.