Nurses aide students train to provide valuable respite

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Registered nurse Marja Salani is giving training in Respite Education and Support Tools to Lorie Maki’s students taking classes at the Houghton County Medical Care Facility through the Career and Technical Education Center.

HANCOCK — Students taking nurses aide classes at the Houghton County Medical Care Facility (HCMCF) are being trained in REST, or Respite Education and Support Tools.

The training prepares the students to be able to step into a home caregiver situation as a respite worker and give the parent, child or spouse rendering regular care to a family member the chance to have a break and spend some time to themselves.

“They need more people to do this kind of work,” teacher Lori Maki said.

She teaches the three regular classes for the Career and Technical Education Center’s programs at the HCMCF, but she agreed to turn over two days this semester to Marja Salani, a REST trainer, on request from the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress (UPCAP).

Sherry Whitman, the program director for UPCAP, said the training gives students several opportunities including part-time jobs and community service opportunities that are good for graduation requirements.

She said after a recent class for students in Luce County, two students were hired by a local senior center to provide respite services under the Older Americans Act. Whitman’s hope is to duplicate that success across the Upper Peninsula. Salani said it is important the training be worthwhile for her students.

“This is a national training that’s being done all around the United States,” Salani said.

The training is interactive, with multiple discussion-based activities happening over the two days. Originally an eight-hour course, Salani has condensed it into a four-hour “essentials” course for the students.

As much as possible, Salani teaches the course in plain English without using nursing jargon, but she admits, “I’m a nurse so sometimes that slips out.”

Part of the training is explaining the need for respite workers. Often a family member becomes the primary caregiver for someone living with a mental or physical disability, chronic illness or dementia. This can leave that person without time for their own interests and emotional and physical care and can even put strain on interpersonal relationships.

Having a trained respite worker step into the role for a few hours can give them time to enjoy their hobbies, do errands, spend time with other friends or simply spend some time alone.

The training helps respite workers learn how to understand and relate to both the person receiving care and their caregiver, work one-on-one with someone dealing with a disability and be able to set appropriate boundaries with their clients.