Some 10,000 people with an intellectual development disability (IDD) live in residential care facilities (RCFs) in Israel and around 5,000 caregivers are employed to care for them. The vision of the Division for the Care of People with IDD at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services (MOSAS) is: “To enable all individuals with IDD to live meaningful lives; to strive to constantly improve their quality of life and well-being and to develop in accordance with their needs, abilities and wishes, with the cooperation of members of their family and the community, while upholding the values of respect, personal choice, privacy, inclusion in the community, professionalism, innovation and initiative” (IDD Division mission statement). The certification course for caregivers is based on this vision. The course is provided by the MOSAS Central School for Social Workers and is intended to improve the quality of care of the residents by raising the caregivers’ professional level. It is also intended to empower them, increase their motivation, reduce burnout and stress, reduce the turnover of caregivers, increase the caregivers’ commitment to the organization, and increase the prestige of the profession of caregiving.
The study examined whether the certification process was achieving these goals. It included three components: 1) In-depth interviews with key personnel in the IDD Division and RCF staff in order to identify the characteristics of a good caregiver. Thirty characteristics were identified and a detailed measurement tool was built. 2) Examining the impact of the certification process on the caregivers by comparing certified caregivers with non-certified caregivers with similar characteristics; 3) Learning about the opinions of the directors, the caregivers’ direct superiors and the caregivers themselves about the contribution of the course.
Among the main study findings:
The course is achieving its main goal – to improve the care provided: In most of the parameters examined, the care provided by the certified caregivers was better than that provided by non-certified caregivers.
The course increases the caregivers’ professional knowledge and expertise.
In contrast, no difference was found between certified and non-certified caregivers regarding the associated objectives of the course – reducing burnout, increasing motivation to work, increasing commitment to the organization and improving attitudes towards the profession.
The findings have been presented and discussed at the study steering committee. Following the findings, MOSAS decided to continue the course and increase participation. There are plans to discuss the findings with directors of the facilities and strengthen ways to assimilate the certification process in the facilities and promote the caregivers’ work. Among the topics discussed: How to upgrade the role of certified caregiver to reflect the professionalism acquired and increase motivation and the prestige of the profession. Another important contribution of the study is the provision of a tool that can be used by the Division and residential facilities as an assessment tool in the future.
The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services and funded with its assistance.
Citing suggestion: Barlev, L. & Rivkin, D. (2016). Certification of Caregivers of People with Intellectual Development Disabilities in Residential Care: Evaluation Study. RR-716-16. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)