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38 Improved Travel Training Practices As previously mentioned, travel training is relatively new as a profession. The vast majority of its practitioners are highly dedicated, resourceful, hardworking, and sensitive to indi- vidual needs. Current industry shortcomings focus on a lack of applying definitional standards to training practices and program inputs, outputs, and outcomes and the lack of data that conclusively link specific travel training techniques or models to specific outcomes. â¢ Available definitions for types of training (for example, one-on-one, group training, and orientations) are not rig- orously applied in all practices. â¢ An agreed-upon methodology for calculating benefits and costs is not available at this time. The literature contains a little information about calculating benefits and costs that has a methodological focus but does not have data associ- ated with it. â¢ Benefits are not precisely defined for the travel training industry at this point in time. â¢ Information that is currently available is almost exclu- sively focused on the impacts of one-on-one training and on short-term benefits to the exclusion of long-term ben- efits. These practices lead to a significant understatement of actual benefits. â¢ Among the significant methodological issues in defining benefits and costs is the fact that the costs of travel training are often incurred immediately while the benefits are real- ized over a longer period of time. With some of the basic procedures and practices now established, the industry needs to focus its attention on mea- suring its costs, benefits, and successes, and transmitting that information to its sponsors and other stakeholders. This can be done in the following ways: â¢ Create, distribute, and adhere to common definitions of training activities, inputs, outputs, and outcomes. â¢ Improve documentation of benefits to program partici- pants, family members and caregivers, funding partners, and the community. â¢ Improve documentation of program costs and benefits for all costs incurred, across target audiences, and across training components (such as one-on-one training and group training) to better understand the costs and benefits of various training approaches and components. â¢ Compare costs and benefits to improve program cost effectiveness. â¢ Implement processes to collect data that can provide feed- back on key program elementsâgoals, objectives, resource allocations, and moreâinto training program improve- ments in a continuous improvement cycle. â¢ Find ways to make better use of volunteers. â¢ Broaden the depth and breadth of funding commitments. â¢ Implement processes to collect and analyze data from travel training programs that transit providers can use to improve the services that they offer to older adults and others. Strategies to accomplish at least some of these objectives include the following: â¢ Develop more precise statements and measures of vision, mission, goals, and objectives. Focus the goals and objec- tives on reasonable expectations of what can be achieved in terms of outputs and outcomes of training activities. Disseminate this information to key stakeholders. â¢ Adopt and apply industrywide standards for instruc- tional activities for all travel training programs. Areas that could benefit from greater standardization include items such as instructional approaches, personal assess- ments, training plans, training models, and proficiency assessments for program completion. â¢ Adopt and apply industrywide standards of fully allocated cost accounting principles and performance measures for all travel training programs. Industrywide standards are C H A P T E R 5
39 needed for common charts of accounts to record all costs incurred. Similarly, the industry needs agreed-upon standards for measuring program outputs, outcomes, and benefits. â¢ Enhance monitoring and follow-up activities. Follow training program graduates for more than 1 year to bet- ter assess the long-term impacts of training. Collect infor- mation on the differences that travel training made in the lives of all participants, including those contacted in group settings, not just those who completed one-on-one train- ing. The results can be used in funding justifications and accountability reports to funders and service providers that refer clients to the program. Document the impacts that travel training makes in the lives of the trainees and distrib- ute this information widely. â¢ Use group orientations as a recruitment tool for further group and one-on-one training sessions. â¢ Obtain commitments from boards of directors and man- agement staff to the programâs vision and then to adequate funding for the training program. Detailed information about program costs and benefits will substantially enhance this effort. â¢ Convene a national program leadership conference. The travel training industry would benefit from opportunities for leaders of programs (as opposed to individual travel trainers) to interact, share lessons learned, and consider strategies to address specific challenges. The conference could focus on identifying travel training program chal- lenges and best practice solutions.