What is a Home Health Aide (HHA)?
A home health aide or HHA is a healthcare provider who works in residential facilities and private homes caring for people who need assistance with their daily activities.
Such people are usually patients with some sort of illness, physical or mental disability, or recovering from surgery or injury.
Some HHAs provide care to elderly people who can’t perform certain tasks on their own anymore.
HHAs are also known as home health providers or residential assistants.
Contrary to personal care aides, home health aides usually work for a certified hospice or home health agencies funded by the government, so they must follow regulations.
They are supervised by medical professionals, typically, registered nurses.
HHAs are an essential part of the healthcare system.
Their area of influence on a person’s life is no longer limited to personal tasks, such as dressing or bathing.
They also assist with instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), such as laundry, cooking, etc.
The proper HHA training is essential for the success of delivered services and the healthcare system in general.
So, there are various training requirements for home health aides.
Training requirements differ depending on the state where you wish to work as a home health aide.
Usually, they include the minimum number of classroom hours as well as clinical training hours and the completion of the exam.
After obtaining a certification, the HHAs acquire the title of a Certified Home Health Aide.
When you become certified, you have more job opportunities available as well as a promising future if you use the experience gained while working as an HHA as a stepping stone in the healthcare field.
What are the Typical Home Health Aide Duties
Home health aides are usually responsible for the following:
- Checking vital signs, such as temperature or pulse rate under the supervision of a health care professional such as a registered nurse (RN).
- Administering prescription medication and assisting with prescribed exercises.
- Dressing wounds, patching scrapes, and cuts.
- Helping clients in their daily personal activities, such as dressing or bathing.
- Giving massages, caring for the skin, or helping with artificial limbs and braces.
- Performing light housekeeping, such as washing dishes, laundry, and vacuuming in a client’s home.
- Physically moving the patient from one area to another.
- Organizing a client’s schedule and planning appointments.
- Shopping for groceries and preparing meals to the dietary specifications of the client.
- Experienced home health aides may also help with medical equipment such as ventilators, which help clients breathe, with special training.
- Providing companionship.
How to Become a Home Health Aide
To work as an HHA, you don’t have to meet any minimum educational requirements.
Even those who don’t have any formal education can work as a home health aide.
However, like with other competitive jobs, having some formal education, such as a high school diploma or GED can be a benefit.
While it is clear about the educational requirements, the training requirements are different.
HHAs need to complete training to gain the necessary skills to perform their duties properly.
Through HHA training, you can learn about the requirements of the job and the setting of the client.
Training requirements can vary depending on your location, work setting, employer, and the combination of the three.
Training requirements specific to work setting
If you are planning to work for a Home Health Agency or HHA Agency funded by Medicaid or Medicare, you will need to:
- Pass a competency and evaluation test.
- Meet minimum federal training requirements.
Facilities funded by Medicare/Medicaid usually offer higher salaries than the facilities without this funding.
Federal requirements include a minimum number of classroom and clinical training hours.
Most states require 75 hours of training, 16 of which should include the clinical experience.
The requirements can vary by state.
For instance, in Alaska, home health training requirements include 140 hours of training with 80 of them for clinical experience, as a minimum.
Agencies that don’t receive Medicare or Medicaid training don’t have any formal training requirements.
Training requirements specific to State
Federal requirements include the curriculum and a minimum number of training hours.
However, some states also have state-specific requirements.
For instance, in Colorado, there’s a difference between HHAs services and skilled services (such as wound care in patient’s home), which require a CNA certification.
On the other hand, in Delaware HHAs are not licensed, so there are different alternatives to how HHAs can work.
For example, you can complete an HHA course, have experience as a nurse, or be a nursing student.
So, before you enroll in a training program, you need to learn the home health aide training requirements specific to your state.
While properly understanding the state requirements, you can also ask HHA Agencies the right questions.
For instance, many agencies provide training.
If you consider taking such a program, you can clarify first if they meet state and federal training requirements.
Training requirements specific to employers
Once you’ve decided to become an HHA, most likely you will work in a Home Health Agency.
Home Health Agencies provide home healthcare services to clients.
They include personal care, nursing, and home health services.
Typically, they are regulated and licensed.
Some agencies have more strict training requirements than others.
For instance, in some agencies, you may be required to have CPR training or some training related to specific clients, such as patients with dementia.
So, it’s best to contact agencies and ask for their specific requirements.
Home Health Aide Training – What are your Options and How to Find Those
You can use a variety of options to receive home health aide training:
Home Health Care Agencies
This way is one of the most common for receiving HHA training.
It’s probably the most cost-effective too.
Generally, these agencies may offer free HHA training and job placement after the training is completed.
In this case, you may be required to work for this agency for a certain time after you complete your training.
Community Colleges and Vocational Schools
This option is a little more costly.
However, it can be helpful in the long run if the training you complete is provided by a reputable school.
There are schools approved by each state for HHA training, which you can research while picking a program.
Online Training Programs
HHA training is also available online.
It brings you the flexibility of learning from the comfort of your home.
Since most states require a certain number of clinical experience hours, some online schools also arrange in-person clinical training.
HHA training is also provided by other organizations, such as the YWCA.
For example, free training in Korean and Chinese is available through the YWCA of Queens.
How to Select the Right Home Health Aide Training Program
The programs for HHA training are pretty much standardized.
However, if you are enrolled in a more specialized program, such as dementia training, you need to consider some factors when picking the right program.
One of the key factors you need to consider is where you plan to work as an HHA.
This applies to a work setting, such as working for an HHA agency or being self-employed.
Another factor is the state where you plan to work.
For instance, if you plan to work in New York, you want to obtain an HHA training from an HHA agency or a school recognized in the local market.
The key factors to consider when you are selecting the right school include:
- Location of school/training facility.
- Cost of program.
Typically, each training facility or agency should follow the standards and guidelines set by the state.
Like with other educational programs, accreditation proves that the program or school is trustworthy.
When choosing a school, you should find out if it’s accredited.
They should be able to confirm it with relevant information if they are.
The cost usually depends on where you receive your training.
For instance, programs in some states are more expensive than in others, such as in New York.
Similarly, the programs offered at a reputable school or university are more expensive than those offered by smaller schools.
The cost of an HHA program can vary between $500 and $1,000 unless you go with a more expensive option, which can range between $2,500 and $3,000.
There are also ways to get your training for free, through an HHA agency, for example.
Online schools also provide training at an affordable cost.
Those who are starting this career or getting back in the workforce to support their families, find the cost to be a big factor.
Some people earn multiple certifications to expand their job opportunities.
So, some programs provide a combined HHA and CNA certifications, so these programs cost more.
You may need specialized training to work with patients with special needs or acute disabilities.
These programs can also cost more if you put that together with regular HHA training.
Some programs provide textbooks and uniforms for free others don’t.
Be sure to find out these details before you choose the program.
The last but not least, don’t compromise on the quality of your training to keep the costs lower.
Ensure that your school is accredited.
In larger cities, programs can be more expensive.
However, it is better to choose a program in an area where you plan to work afterward.
Good schools or agencies have some brand recognition in the local market.
After you complete your training, it’s always good to make the most out of the brand.
If you are looking for flexibility in your training, online training can be a good option.
Of course, there are pros and cons to it.
But despite your choice, you have to make sure the school is accredited.
How Long Does it Take to Complete HHA Training
In most states, you are required to complete a minimum of 75 hours of training (in some states, the number is higher).
Most HHA programs take from a few weeks to a couple of months.
Typically, classes take place on weekdays during standard work hours.
However, some schools offer evening classes for those who have to work while studying.
Check with the school of your choice if they have any scheduling flexibility.
HHA training is also offered online where students can take up to 12 months to complete the program.
Remember to check with the online program provider for how long you will be allowed to access the course materials.
What Can You Expect in HHA Training
To obtain the HHA certification, you will need to complete training in basic safety techniques.
Not only is it necessary to keep the patients safe but also to prevent injuries to HHAs when performing such tasks as moving, dressing, or bathing patients.
Training also covers emergency response skills, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid.
The primary subjects covered in any HHA training program include (note that requirements can vary in different states, so the curriculum can also slightly differ):
- First aid and CPR.
- Life Support.
- Basic body movements and positions.
- Common diseases.
- Basic concepts of healthcare.
- Personal care.
- Common terminology in the medical field.
- Communication and working with people.
- Cleaning and care of homes.
Both classroom-based and clinical training is required.
HHA Online Training
If you need flexibility in the HHA training program, online training options can be the right choice for you.
With online training, you can complete the program from the comfort of your home while moving on at your own pace.
In most online programs, you can access course materials for 12 months.
After completing the course successfully, you will obtain an HHA training completion certification.
Online HHA courses cost from $250-300 to $750.
However, when you’re choosing the online program, you should consider more factors than just the cost of it.
Training is Over… One Last Step to HHA Certification
Once you complete the training, you will have to take and pass a competency exam.
This is necessary to ensure that you can provide services to your patients properly.
The test evaluates if you have acquired the proper skills to perform duties in a home health setting while caring for patients who may have unique needs.
Depending on the state requirements, you may need a CNA certification to work as a Home Health Aide.
In this case, you will have to take the CNA certification exam and register as a CNA with the state.
The registry requirements and other details can also vary by state.
Those who completed the HHA training program properly will find the competency test not difficult at all.
If you work for the employer which is funded by Medicare, you are required by Federal law to pass an examination that covers a wide range of disciplines of the home health care.
In some agencies, there are testing facilities at their center.
So, be sure to ask about the testing location before you join the program.
Once you pass the examination, you will acquire the title of a Certified Home Health Aide or CHHA.
Home Health Aide Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate for an HHA was $11.00 with the average annual wage of $22,870, as of 2015.
About 820,630 people were employed as an HHA, and the top 10% of them earned $29,950 per year.
Besides, the salary can slightly differ depending on the workplace:
- Agencies – $10.79.
- Independent workers – $10.31.
- Retirement homes – $10.75.
- Skilled nursing facilities – $10.87.
The salary for Home Health Aides can also differ by state.
Home Health Aide Job Description/Resume
So, after you have completed the HHA training, you have become a certified home health aide.
Now it’s time to learn what type of jobs are available to you.
You also need to know how to put together a presentable resume to make a great first impression.
All employers seek a well-trained HHA.
But presenting your skills, training, and experience can make you more competitive in the job market.
Home Health Aide Jobs
The prospects are bright for aspiring home health aides.
With the aging baby-boomer population, the demand for HHA services continues to increase.
In 2014, approximately 913,000 positions were held by HHAs in the US with around 59,000 job openings.
The employment rates for HHAs are projected to grow by 38% through 2024, which is a lot faster than the average for all other occupations in the country.
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