Group home employees are responsible for the daily care and supervision of residents. A residential aide position may require only a high school diploma, while other positions, such as a youth care practitioner, may require certification or licensing. Group home residents may be youth, the elderly, or people with physical or developmental disabilities. Some group homes serve residents who are recovering from substance abuse or living with mental illness. Employee training is designed to meet the needs of residents while complying with policies for group home operations. National Residential Child and Youth Services recommends training group home employees to “maintain a common knowledge base and residential care philosophy with consistently high values and practices."
Group home employees learn about social, emotional and physical development of the residents so the employees can recognize issues requiring more attention. Employees study life stages and learn how to teach life skills. Training also provides knowledge of developmental disabilities and behavioral issues. For youth homes, employees may learn how to help residents transition to independence. For the developmentally disabled, knowledge of a resident's limitations may help an employee know when to provide assistance.
Employee training provides skills for behavior modification, crisis response and management, conflict resolution, discipline, group dynamics, and counseling theories. For instance, youth group home employees may learn the proper use of restraints. Employees at a group home for substance abuse recovery may use these skills to manage conflict and avoid physical violence. Employees learn to manage the behavior of residents individually and as a group.
Legal and Ethical Issues
Group home employees learn about the social welfare system, understanding residents' rights, confidentiality, state and federal laws, records management and documentation, and local policy regarding facility operation—number of residents, sleeping quarters, required staffing. In homes where medical records are used, training may provide knowledge of federal laws regarding confidentiality. For elderly residents, training may teach workers when to report elder abuse.
Trainees learn social work theories, how to work in partnership with community resources, and the importance of cultural sensitivity. Group home employees also receive training about social issues such as substance abuse, family violence, sexual abuse, literacy and poverty. Training equips employees to work with diverse populations and to understand the importance of interacting with residents in respectful ways. For instance, in a facility for homeless adults, training may help an employee discover that a resident cannot read and how that affects his ability to be independent.
Trainees develop listening skills, interviewing techniques, and learn how to recognize and use verbal and non-verbal cues. Employees use these skills to influence resident behavior and to resolve conflict. In addition, communication skills help employees carry out case plans in partnership with other staff and outside agencies.
Health and Safety
Trainees learn how to maintain a safe environment and how to prevent and respond to medical and household emergencies. Training teaches medication management, CPR, first aid, and how to recognize illness and prevent transmission of disease. Group home employees learn about safe food preparation and nutrition, how to transport residents in vehicles, and how to ensure that residents are complying with safety regulations. An employee who works with the elderly may also learn about wheelchair safety, while an employee who works with youth may learn to recognize the signs of eating disorders.