Are your caregivers the ones with all the pins?



We have a running debate in our office over an illustration we use frequently in presentations.  The image is of two Home Depot aprons – one without any pins, and one with dozens of pins representing all the different areas of mastery a worker has achieved.

The story actually wasn’t mine originally, but rather was offered up by a person in the audience of one of my presentations.  I was talking about caregiver certification pins, and the person said, “Well this makes sense to me.  When I go to Home Depot I always look for the person with the most pins on his or her apron.  I figure that person has to be the most knowledgeable and can probably answer my question the quickest.”

The internal debate is if this is a good representation of what a client or referral source might think if they saw a caregiver loaded down with certification pins – pins representing knowledge and competence in end of life care, post hospital care, dementia care, diabetes care and more.

From my own experience, I know that these little pins matter.  They matter to families who really want to know, “What kind of training does my mom’s caregiver have?  Does she know how to care for my mother’s needs?”

They matter to caregivers, who often receive precious little recognition or compensation for the back-breaking hours they devote to caring for, and about, their clients.

They matter to your referral sources who are invested in making referrals to good places for care, not just any place for care.

More than the pins, though, it’s what they represent.  For many caregivers, they represent time off the clock that they invested in their own knowledge and skills, learning to caring for a person with dementia and desiring to truly be the very best caregiver they can be.

Who would you want taking care of your loved one?

How would you like to be known – as the company with the plain-shirted caregivers or “the ones with all the pins?”

Caregiver certification may not be a requirement where you live and work, but it does matter – maybe a lot more than you might have considered before!

26 Responses to “Are your caregivers the ones with all the pins?”

  1. kathy

    I agree with Elizabeth! I was thinking of doing something like this for my caregivers but, how would the client react to this? Good question, may have to think about this a little more!

  2. Melinda Thomas

    Seen from a caregiver’s point of view, pins are going to hook on things when transferring and possibly tear skin. I appreciate the thought though. After 25+ years of various experience I would be loaded. Whatever you come up with, do make it practical.

  3. Marie Harris

    I like the idea of pins, but I am promoting the years of service pin that could be worn on the shirt collar and shouldn’t endanger the client. The pin would promote conversation on what the pin represents and allow more interaction between client and caregiver on this subject.

  4. Dinah

    We give our CAREGiver’s pins for service hours as well as completed training. Both clients and CAREGivers love it!! Our CAREGivers wear lanyards with their name badges so the pins attach to the lanyard.

  5. Michelle

    I like the idea but agree that pins could potentially scratch or cut a client when transferring or bathing, etc. It would also be hard for the caregiver to take them off their shirts every time they washed them and put back on again when dressing each day.

  6. Tia Mckay

    This is what I see with the pins and Im looking at this as an person looking for a place for my mom. If I came in and saw different amounts of pins on different caregivers it would be “this person is new and don’t know what they are doing” or is “this a bad employee who is still here and really don’t care about their job” and it will be taken out on my mother. If you have everyone with the same pins on it looks uniform like the girl scouts and loose its purpose.

  7. Emma Noble

    Pins, from a caregivers standpoint, would be a nuisance. Truly, you could not wear them to work for at least a couple of reasons. First, how does it look to the client when a caregiver walks into their sacred home fully decorated like a military general with so much hardware pinned to themselves. I would think that caregiver is pretty full of themselves and would not want them to work with me. Second, pins are delicate little things and fall apart easily under the simplest working conditions. They may be great for Home Depot, but they are not cleaning toilets, washing laundry, cooking meals, sweeping floors and making beds. All very physical activities. Certificates make much more sense. Perhaps create a certificate profile in your office to show potential clients.

  8. Dorie Sugay

    Caregivers should NOT wear pins to work–so then how will the clients know who is the better one. Pins, unless they have no sharp edges and they are laminated, can cut the very thin layer of skin seniors have!

  9. Barbara A. Smith, RN

    I agree with the majority of clinicians commenting on this topic. As nurses and homecare providers pins to acknowledge experience could also serve as an indicator of lack of experience for the providers with less pins. A caregiver should not have to justify their professionalism by the amount of pins they have acquired or not acquired. The best way to promote professionalism is to demonstrate professionalism in our actions. As professionals wearing pins on our uniforms can present as a potential risk to the clients in our care.

  10. Wayne

    There are always those that are impressed with any outward form of recognition and from that prospective I would agree with giving employees some form of recognition. Sadly pins in the work place are just not practical. We struggle with the “Competition” mentality enough without outward encouragement. I find a pat on the back and a $100.00 bill more effective.

  11. Sharon

    Our name / ID badge only has room for one pin which we are using the Dementia Certified.

  12. Colleen

    Wow ! What a great idea. When I was a nurse in the ED we got pins for different accomplishments as well as trainings. I really liked getting them and I still have them on display in my office where I wok with those with ID and LD. I don’t know how practical it would be to have a caregiver wear a pin but when I got the pin it helped me realize that what I did made a difference and it was noticed.

  13. Elizabeth El Kassemy

    I believe pins would signify being knowledgeable and a movement for continued growth and success.

  14. Roalie

    I think pins are always a “great” idea. It is a constant reminder of what you have accomplished. I use an “Attitude is Everything” pin in my office and would appreciate any other input that you might have. Thanks and “Good Luck” with your project.

  15. Joe

    My answer of your question is “no”.
    First I have only six beds.
    Second I treat my caregivers equal even though he/she may have a lot of experience, I will give them all the same training.

  16. Mary Ann

    We have a recognition program were the client recognizes the employee for “Excellence”.

    The caregiver is awarded an “Excellence” Pin and is worn on their lanyard, when a client sees the number of Excellence Pins the caregiver has, he or she is aware of the high level of service the caregiver has provided.

    The program has received excellent comments from clients and families; in addition our caregivers love to display their accomplishment proudly.

  17. Trudy

    Sometimes people do not always get credit for what they do, therefore, they may not receive a pin for their efforts.
    The squeaky wheel gets the oil. So there are some wonderful, knowledgeable people who are quiet and humble who do not always get recognized for what they do.
    So, although pins appear to be one way to show how knowledgeable one is, it may not be the perfect representation of that.
    I have found that the people who don’t appear to have the most knowledge are sometimes more helpful, because they are willing to find answers.
    The one who appears to be most knowledgeable is sometimes hard to find in the stores or medical facilities, or they just don’t have the time to spend helping a customer, client or patient.

  18. Sharon Brothers

    Thank you to everyone who has joined in this conversation. A good conversation includes lots of different viewpoints, and you’ve shared those here.

    In my own experience pins mean a lot to the individual receiving them. My caregivers would pin them to their collar or their name badge and lanyard – it was a huge point of pride to share their accomplishments, and they would find ways to do it that didn’t create risk to their clients. Let’s keep the conversation going!

  19. Jan

    I think an awareness of that knowledge would be beneficial for a client or caseworker seeking a new caregiver but I don’t think an official ‘pinned’ vest would do any good.

  20. Tahitia

    With every certification I have earned as a nurse I have received a pin. I have not worn them but they are a source of pride. I also received one when I graduated from school. In total I have probably several pins and each one is very valuable and special to me. I think pins are a great way to recognize those who are caregivers. This practice has long been going on. However I think most patients usually just look at my credentials.


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