Mobile technology is changing the U.S. in profound ways. According to U.S. News, the number of smartphone owners in the U.S. doubled in the last four years. More importantly, people of all demographics are embracing the mobile revolution, but surprisingly, the number of younger adults who own computers has actually dropped.
Existing desktop computers and web-based learning environments that require desktop or laptop computers are being antiquated. Your direct support professionals (DSPs) may not even own an actual computer as more than 10 percent of all computer owners have ditched the desk- or lap-bound machines. Meanwhile, the number of direct support professionals needed for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) is only going to climb in the coming years. Consequently, you need to consider how mobile technology will play a role in addressing this demand.
Current Benefits of Mobile Technology
Mobile technology is filled with benefits. It enables the rapid dissemination of information. In fact, the information distributed can already go beyond the limitations of training for DSPs.
For example, mobile alerts are currently being used for emergency notifications by universities and health campuses around the country, explains Campus Safety Magazine. However, there are many other benefits to the use of mobile technology.
Mobile technology is cost-efficient. Since 68 percent of all U.S. individuals own smartphones, your DSPs likely already have the device for completing training in their possession. As a result, the costs associated with purchasing new technology for training are reduced.
Mobile technology inherently leads to greater flexibility among DSPs. Since DSPs may work odd hours, having the ability to log in to a training system from work without the need for a computer can dramatically improve training participation rates. M-learning allows staff members to complete training modules from any location, and updates or requests to complete new training courses can be linked directly to a given staff member from within an app.
Mobile learning, otherwise known as m-learning, explains Matt Straz of Entrepreneur.com, enables training and continuing education on a much broader and faster scale, which applies to DSPs. In fact, more than 90 percent of all organizations, including those providing services for individuals with IDDs, “now support corporate applications on mobile devices.” So, the transition to using mobile technology for training purposes is the next logical step.
Why Are Organizations Switching to Mobile Solutions in Care and Training?
Some may argue mobile training programs are ineffective for training DSPs. While much of this training deals with performing activities involving direct care, such as assisting individuals with bathing or eating, mobile training can take care of the course instruction portion. Meanwhile, clinical training afterward may be necessary, which depends on the specific policies of your organization.
The key to understanding why mobile solutions in care for those with intellectual disabilities and training for DSPs lies in how m-learning readies staff for new situations.
For example, aggression management courses are heavy in both classroom instruction and clinical experience. Therefore, the classroom component can be effectively delivered via mobile technology at the convenience of the staff member. Upon completion of the module, the staff member may then complete physical training to practice aggression management techniques.
Keeping up with best practices and changes to state and federal guidelines for centers providing services to those with disabilities is another reason to switch training media. In some cases, the type of media used to provide training can result in significant benefits to the financials of a company.
For example, a recent report, “Credits and Incentives Talk With Deloitte,” explained how New York has launched incentive programs for companies that use advanced learning technologies, including app-based training programs. Therefore, the push toward m-learning is becoming more mainstream and beneficial to companies across the country.
How Can Mobile Technology Be Used for Training DSPs in the Future?
The opportunities for expanding how mobile technology and m-learning may be used in the future are endless. Mobile technologies are already being used by companies around the globe to ensure centralized quality training. Imagine keeping all of your staff and departments on the same page without the legwork. But, how does this translate into future applications?
More mental and physical health applications are being used by consumers, and while diagnosing someone without the proper credentials is ill-advised, the information disseminated can provide insight to DSPs. In other words, DSPs can learn more to prepare for potential scenarios and types of care or therapies.
Recently, Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review identified more than 50 apps widely being used by consumers and health professionals. But, the concepts of telehealth are still in development. Think of using mobile technologies to provide automated chart updating for the people you serve, and imagine using this information to identify areas that DSPs need additional training in.
This concept goes back to how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pays service providers, which may include your organization. If you demonstrate proper training, acknowledgment, and correction of problems, you can work toward achieving better compliance with CMS guidelines.
For instance, the CMS Surveyor Guidelines for inspecting intermediate care facilities for those with intellectual disabilities includes assessment of occupational and life skills training programs. However, DSPs can only provide this training with adequate, updated, and accurate training to work as a DSP.
What Does It All Mean?
The importance of mobile technologies in the future of training for DSPs cannot be overstated. Deloitte predicts a complete transition to m-learning and mobile-based processes for all companies globally in the next few years, reports Straz. As a result, you need to start thinking about using m-learning technology, including app-based training modules, immediately if you hope to be ahead of the curve in the future.
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