Private Duty

Improve client outcomes and satisfaction with nutrition, culinary training

Training caregivers to address nutrition and improve their own cooking skills can help with both client outcomes and satisfaction.

Several years ago, Angel Corps co-owner Dorian Maples realized the agency had a problem with its meal preparation services.

“We were getting consistent complaints from our clients that our staff didn’t know how to cook,” Maples says.

Angel Corps is not alone. A 2013 article from Home Care Pulse in Rexburg, Idaho, stated that the fifth-most common complaint from clients involved a lack of caregiver training. Clients were upset when caregivers couldn’t perform basic cooking and cleaning requests.

To remedy this issue at Angel Corps, the non-medical home care agency based in Fort Wayne, Ind., started requiring caregivers take cooking classes. After putting this practice in place, the agency’s cooking complaints dropped to zero.

Angel Corps worked with Caregivers Kitchen, in Muncie, Ind., for its training program. Every caregiver is required to take a basic culinary class through Caregivers Kitchen.

The course covers cooking safety and things like how to cook an egg, how to prepare hash browns and how to make coffee.

It has been a significant investment on the agency’s part, but Maples feels the results justify the expenditure.

“It not only improves culinary skills in our client homes it also improves our staff’s home life, so we’re enriching both clients and staff,” Maples says.

Caregivers Kitchen offers both online and in-person programs, according to Chef Beth Scholer, CC, CDM, CFPP and CEO of Caregivers Kitchen. Individual online courses start at $7 for topics including “Principles of Cooking.”

There also are online bundles for $29 and $39, and the company offers hybrid training that incorporates a combination of online and in-person cooking classes. These hybrid trainings vary in cost based on class size.

After caregivers graduate from the basic class, the agency gives them each a cooking themed goodie bag that includes kitchen items they can use in clients’ homes.

The course has been so popular with clients and caregivers that Angel Corps enlisted Caregivers Kitchen to train staff in additional short classes on diabetic cooking, food allergies and budget-friendly meals.