How do you provide in-services to staff without taking them away from the people they are caring for? Broadmead, a continuing care retirement community in northern Baltimore County, has figured it out. Bring the in-services to the staff.

A team of creative professionals devised a Learning Cart to provide in-services while keeping within the guidelines of Payroll-Based Journal. PBJ states that facilities cannot count the time caregivers provide care if they are removed from the direct line of care. Most in-services are taught in classrooms, which take the caregivers away from their resident care duties.

The current Broadmead Learning Cart team consists of Ann Patterson, Health Care Administrator, Meredith Hudkins, Assisted Living Manager, Stacey Young, Director of Lifestyles, and Teresa Geroulo, Director of Social Work. Ms. Young commandeered a cart, decorated it with bright yellow paper and wrote “Learning Cart” on the side. 

The team dons unique thinking caps to draw attention to themselves as they push the cart down the hall while gathering staff to offer a quick in-service. The cart coincidentally has a loud squeak, so the staff can hear the Learning Cart coming.

The cart carries any props needed for the in-service, handouts with a summary of what was discussed, a sign in sheet with the in-service topic for record keeping, and treats for the participants- candy, pens, mini hand sanitizers, etc. The team members present the information in an engaging way, and the staff has hands-on participation. The goal is to have staff take away three educational tips when the cart rolls away.

Often the team uses humor as a learning tool. During a Learning Cart about infection control, Ms. Geroulo and Ms. Patterson pretended to sneeze on each other to demonstrate the wrong way to cover a sneeze. Fun is always part of the Learning Cart.  As another example, during the infection control Learning Cart, the group gathered around a sink and sang “Happy Birthday” twice while a staff member washed her hands to learn the proper length of time for handwashing.

Broadmead is fortunate to have access to technology, and the team used a computer game about Residents Rights as the teaching tool.  As part of the dementia awareness Learning Cart, nurse Alison Sinclair wore goggles to simulate vision changes that can occur with CVAs or dementia. She was seated in a wheelchair and she was pulled backwards without being told she was going to be moved, a powerful experience.

Since the in-services are given in resident care areas, the residents often participate in many ways such as answering questions, singing, or laughing with the team in their funny thinking caps.

The cart is not exclusively for nursing staff. Staff from all areas are included and encouraged to attend. Dining staff are quite competitive when the format is a game to be played. The Broadmead electrician often stops what he is working on to learn and give his perspective on the issues being discussed.

Leaders from other departments serve as excellent guest educators. George Patee, Broadmead Director of Campus Safety offered a topic on elopement, and the various accesses to the building. Lynn Nyce, Dietician hosted an outstanding game of nutrition jeopardy.

Our Learning Cart is fun, fast, interactive and applicable. It’s an exciting and unique way to perform in-services without being in a classroom.


Teresa M. Geroulo, LCSW-C, CDP, is the director of social work at Broadmead in Cockeysville, MD.