Online Home Health Aide Certification Information
A home health aide (HHA) is also sometimes referred to as a nursing aide (NA) or certified nursing aide (CNA). While all three positions can be very similar to one another, each has slightly different descriptions and certification requirements. A HHA certificate program isn't available fully online, but some schools do offer hybrid courses, which combine online academic study with hands-on training in classrooms or healthcare facilities.
Online Home Health Aide Certificate Program Overview
Home Health Aid Certificate programs are designed to teach students to care for patients in a home healthcare environment. Skills acquired through this program might include basic life support and an understanding of medical terminology. Students learn to care for a patient's basic human needs, as well as how to care for patients with illnesses or special dietary needs. Although certification is often voluntary in this field, many programs are designed to prepare students to take national certification exams offered by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.
Program Specifics and Requirements
Home health aides are primarily employed with home healthcare agencies, which assign them to individuals living at home or in long-term care facilities. Not all agencies require home health aides to be certified. However, healthcare employers who receive compensation from the government in the form of Medicare or Medicaid payments are legally required to ensure HHAs complete a 75-hour training program and a minimum of 16 supervised hours of training. In some instances, HHAs are also required to gain state certification or complete a competency evaluation before they are permitted to work with patients. These minimum certification requirements are set forth by the Federal Government specifically for healthcare employers that receive government funding; individual states may require additional training or criteria for certification.
Although HHA certificate programs aren't available fully online, they are offered in hybrid formats, which allow students to complete some coursework online, while also attending classes on campus or completing clinical experiences in person. Although programs vary, some aspects of the online component may include an electronic video library, threaded discussions, interactive activities and live chats.
Descriptions of Common Courses
Credits and timelines may vary, but some online Home Health Aide Certificate programs allow students to complete coursework in as little as six weeks. Additional clinical components may also be required.
Home Health Aide Introduction Course
This course provides a broad overview of the typical job duties a HHA can be expected to perform, as well as the role he or she is to play within the client's home when working with family members or other healthcare professionals. Topics may include personal health maintenance, preparation and storage of food, and social needs sensitivity.
Medical Terminology Course
Designed as an introductory course, basic medical vocabulary is introduced, as well as commonly used abbreviations and symbols used in medical charts and other related documents.
Students are introduced to different types of nutritious foods and meal preparation techniques. Emphasis is placed on the correlation between healthy diets and the prevention of certain types of diseases.
Basic Life Support Course
This class focuses primarily on essential life-saving techniques that all healthcare providers should know. Topics include injury management, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), burns and other related subjects.
Medication Mathematics Course
The class is a basic skills mathematics course, covering units of measurement and their relation to dosage calculations. HHAs may only dispense medication if it has been pre-poured by a nurse or other more highly trained healthcare professional.
Depending on the needs of a patient, job duties for HHAs vary widely. Light housekeeping and day-to-day tasks, such as feeding, dressing, or accompanying a patient to an appointment are typical. While working under the supervision of a more advanced healthcare professional, like a nurse, a HHA may check some vital statistics, such as taking a temperature or a pulse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for home health aides is projected to remain extremely strong, growing 50% between 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). Also noted by the BLS, nearly 922,000 individuals were employed as home health aides in 2008, earning a median hourly wage of $9.22. Pay increases may be available as work experience and additional responsibility also increase, but advancement is generally limited in this field without further certification.
Continuing Education Information
Those home health aides who seek national or state certification may be required to complete continuing education courses to maintain certification, although criteria vary by state and employer. Due to the lack of advancement opportunities in the field, some home health aides may choose to complete additional certificate programs to become a certified nursing assistant (CAN) or an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing.
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