Even though it is the employees that take the classes, it is the elders at SunPorch of Dodge City that ultimately reap the benefits.

SunPorch recently started a Mentoring Program designed to enhance services provided by certified nurse’s aides and certified medication aides, as well as those who work in the dietary, housekeeping and laundry departments.

"The mentoring classes help us focus on being respectful of everyone – colleagues, visitors and especially our elders," said Jennifer Kephart, CMA, who participated in the program. "We want to listen to and learn from each elder so we can satisfy individual needs.

"The classes help us broaden our view of any situation and see it from another person’s point of view.

"As a CMA, I want to learn about each individual I care for so we can form a good relationship of trust and caring. As a mentor, I want to help newcomers do the same."

Kephart also noted that because of the mentor classes, she better understands that "everyone learns differently and this will help when I interact with and mentor others."

Ryan Salinas, SunPorch administrator, is leading the classes. He had observed a mentoring class at a previous job and knew it would be a good fit for SunPorch elders and employees.

"Studies have shown that in-house mentors accomplish several things," Salinas said. "The first is better employee retention, which is extremely important in the long-term-care setting.

"Team members tend to stay on the job longer if they have a mentor; it is important to have someone to rely on during those early days.

"Our elders get to know their aides and we want to do all we can to retain our good employees."

Hand-picked mentors are chosen for several reasons, including their expertise in a certain area, and how they interact with elders and colleagues.

"Mentors have direct input into training methods and this helps create a buy-in from new employees," Salinas said. "And finally, the mentoring program is an opportunity to reward team members who show great drive and perseverance."

Michala Abney, SunPorch licensed practical nurse and human resources manager, noted that mentoring not only enhances training, it also, "ensures that new employees have an experienced and trusted advisor. "Department directors hand-pick participants based on their leadership qualities such as compassion, competency, dependability and positive work history."