The COVID-19 pandemic may have sparked a sudden reliance upon online learning for training and education across many industries, but some openly embraced the platform long before it became commonplace.
Pat Carver, the entrepreneur behind Pat Carver Media and The Hospice Tutor, was well ahead of the game, seeking a way to provide training that didn’t rely on endless hours spent in a classroom setting as early as 2007.
She isn’t psychic — only smart.
Latitude has been working with Pat since 2014. We recently spoke with her to discuss her journey thus far, learn about the ways her Hospice training has evolved over the years, and reflect on why our LMS has aided in her success.
How Pat Transformed Hospice Training To Provide Better Support
“I initially started this Hospice volunteer training program back in the fall of 2007,” Pat explained.
In the beginning, Pat developed DVDs and other resources, suggesting that Hospices send those home with people for home study to save valuable time that would otherwise be spent in a classroom setting.
“I was kind of ahead of the curve, as far as home study goes,” Pat admitted. At the time, she explained, some Hospice volunteers were spending 40 hours in training classes before they were able to work as volunteers.
“It was a really extensive process,” she observed, noting that she felt there was probably a much better way to make use of their time as they prepared to become volunteers.
In 2010, Pat created a video portal that would play the segments for the students, accompanied by a hard-copy workbook that provided their quizzes.
The next step in the process came about in 2014 when Pat partnered with LatitudeLearning, a platform that allowed the students to not only watch the educational segments but take their quizzes online and download their competency certificates once they were finished training.
Pat noted that Latitude’s Hundred Users Free program was especially beneficial when she first began using the platform.
“That was key in [my] being able to start this whole e-learning process in a market that had no clue what that was about or if it would work for them,” Pat explained.
The Hundred Users Free program remains in place today, along with an even larger charity program offered to organizations with 501c3 and who give all of their training away to the community.
Joining LatitudeLearning and taking advantage of the Hundred Users Free program was a “big step in the journey of home study” and one that was ahead of its time, according to Pat.
She explained that although her approach to training was certainly innovative, it took people a while to accept the idea that students were capable of learning at home remotely — and with success — given the regulations involved.
“Hospices are very regulated,” Pat said. Although part of that regulation naturally focuses on the medical side of an organization, volunteerism within Hospice is heavily regulated as well.
“Volunteers must go through a training process,” she said, noting that there are some grey areas surrounding what that must contain. Additionally, she told us that volunteer hours must be in proportion to a Hospice organization’s staff care hours.
Volunteer hours must be 5% or more of staff care hours and as such, volunteer coordinators within a Hospice organization are responsible for tracking volunteer hours to ensure they’re meeting that quota.
If quotas are not met, the organization is at risk of not being reimbursed by Medicare.
“In my opinion, it’s probably one of the hardest roles,” Pat said of the volunteer coordinator position within a Hospice organization. It’s also the reason why coordinators need the vital support that The Hospice Tutor provides.
“Volunteers are really an essential part of Hospice. They give that extra care, that extra support that patients and families need during that tough journey at the end of life,” she observed.
She explained that the reason why Medicare requires so much volunteer support is to maintain the ideal that caring for people — which is part of the Hospice philosophy — is what’s most important.
Medicare wants to ensure that Hospices are using volunteers in that way and they achieve this through regulation.
Eventually, COVID-19 emerged and changed everything.
“Volunteers were not able to go into people’s homes,” Pat explained, adding that they were unable to set foot inside of facilities or hospitals.
It was an incredibly difficult time.
“Because of that, Medicare lifted those care hour regulations,” Pat said.
Hospices were no longer expected to recruit or train volunteers. With that sudden change, many volunteer coordinators were laid off, furloughed, or moved into other roles.
Those who remained in their roles as volunteer coordinators would try to stay in touch with their volunteers and find things for them to do, even if it meant simply making phone calls or sending cards and letters.
“There was a lot of shifting of gears during that time,” Pat observed. For many, volunteering was put on the back burner entirely.
With training no longer being needed, Pat said that her business was in jeopardy.
“I barely hung on during those couple of years,” she said. “I am totally focused only on Hospices and Hospice volunteers.”
A few organizations continued trying to bring in new people, but her income was drastically impacted.
It was a tough time for many.
Pat said that although the restriction is still in place as of this writing, it is reassessed periodically.
For this reason, most Hospices are beginning to return focus to their volunteer departments, knowing that those restrictions will be lifted.
Why LatitudeLearning Continues To Be Such A Great Match
Pat explained that when she originally researched options for e-learning, she found that various platforms worked in different ways.
Some varied their cost based upon the length of the training sessions, for example, but the options for set-up and the overhead associated with using each platform were varied as well.
Pat was drawn toward Latitude’s LMS because the cost is based on the number of users.
“I certainly have users that come and go,” Pat said, explaining that they may be active for a while, only to be deactivated once they’ve finished their training.
“Most volunteers have initial training and then they don’t need access after that,” she said. For this reason, there isn’t a need for them to be able to log into the system indefinitely — or forever.
Pat also liked the way that LatitudeLearning allows the ability to set up different locations and organizations. That was something that greatly appealed to Pat.
“It’s my business, but then I have all these separate Hospices that need their own accounts under me,” she explained. “The way I was able to set it up just worked.”
Additionally, she noted that Latitude has made continual improvements to its LMS over the years, including its user interface, becoming even more user-friendly with every upgrade.
The responsiveness of the LatitudeLearning team is another benefit.
“Your people are so responsive,” she said. “Whenever there’s an issue or a question or something, your team at Latitude is on it.”
“It’s really been wonderful to have that support,” Pat said. “I am a lone entrepreneur, so I don’t have a team working here behind me.”
“I count on you guys a lot,” she observed.
That’s a key part of Latitude’s focus — providing a level of support that allows the organization to grow in tandem with its partners.
Everything that Latitude offers stood out in stark contrast when compared to the other LMS options Pat considered, and it’s why she has remained with Latitude for nearly a decade.
The Hospice Tutor Today — And Looking Toward Tomorrow
“The impetus to offer an e-learning option back in 2014,” Pat said, “was that I had a franchise group of Hospices that wanted not only my regular training but also a bereavement course.”
It seemed like the right time to explore e-learning and it was the first course she added.
Pat’s full patient-care Hospice training offers 16 segments of courses that volunteers go through. In addition, she offers a course designed for non-patient/administrative volunteers.
She recently added several more in-service courses as well as role specific courses such as an Vigil/11th Hour Training and a Tuck-in Course.
“Hospices, just like a lot of organizations, require their staff members to complete in-services periodically to keep up their educational requirements,” Pat explained.
“Volunteers don’t need any kind of special certification,” she said, “but they do need in-services.” Beyond this continued education, there is an annual competency check.
Pat has a hard-copy competency check that she made accessible online during the pandemic.
In fact, she put many courses online during COVID-19.
Pat noted that the primary training — presented when volunteers first join — is an entire series of courses that’s now being supplemented by additional coursework that’s available for use when needed.
To date, she has built a comprehensive training platform that more than 600 Hospices have accessed. Some of those Hospices have been with her since the beginning when she suggested checking out the DVD’s and allowing new volunteers to engage in part of their training at home.
Although it’s impossible to know for sure how things will pan out as the pandemic continues, Pat remains hopeful for the future.
“We’ll cross our fingers everything keeps going forward,” Pat said.
That’s the most any of us can do. By staying focused on her mission and with the help of Latitude’s LMS, Hospices across the United States will continue to receive vital support for their coordinators and volunteers.
We really are all in this together.
About Pat Carver Media
Known as The Hospice Tutor, Pat Carver Media focuses on providing support to Hospice volunteer coordinators and their training programs. By openly embracing an e-learning platform with Latitude’s LMS, Pat Carver Media developed a curriculum for training and documentation that has been used by more than 600 Hospices across the United States.
About Latitude CG
Latitude CG is an industry leader in driving performance and the home of LatitudeLearning, an extended enterprise training solution. LatitudeLearning is for executives that oversee training programs and want employees and partners to be ready for today and tomorrow’s business challenges. Our product is a learning platform that manages organizational skill development and makes external training of business partners painless. Unlike other LMSs, which is limited to managing knowledge acquisition, our LMS manages knowledge acquisition, skill development and organizational readiness.