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Direct Care Worker Training for Aging Clients with Developmental Disabilities

Posted: January 20, 2011

An increasing number of Pennsylvania residents with developmental disabilities are reaching the age of 55 and beyond.

An increasing number of Pennsylvania residents with developmental disabilities are reaching the age of 55 and beyond. A study prepared for the Center of Rural Pennsylvania entitled, Direct Care Worker Training for Aging Clients with Developmental Disabilities addresses how direct care workers (DCW) in Pennsylvania are confronted with different challenges when assisting aging rural individuals with retardation/developmental disabilities.

In order to effectively evaluate the success of both urban and rural Pennsylvania DCW training programs, the study compared the commonwealth’s programs to others in various states as well as practices proven successful in the past. Included in the comparison was DCW training materials used, challenges faced and needs met.

The study concluded DSW training in Pennsylvania did not reflect “best practices,” for service providers chose to most often focus on providing training rather than concern themselves with the quality of training given. Resear found that training sessions in Pennsylvania were based around lectures and video presentations with many programs not assessing the success of their programs. The challenges inhibiting DCW training included lack of resources, time and finances, and the inability to access inexpensive training materials.

Suggestions for improving DCW training were to better understand patient diagnoses and how to properly care for the patients. Additionally responding appropriately to certain behaviors and improving communication skills between the DCW and patient will increase the success of such training programs.

The report can be read in its entirety at the Center for Rural Pennsylvania website.

Prepared by Addison Weinstein, research assistant to Dr. Theodore Alter