Certified Home Health Aide Training Programs and Requirements
Home health aides care for patients in private residences by providing basic medical and personal services. Home health aides are responsible for administering medication, performing personal care tasks and general housekeeping and maintenance. Home health agencies require home health aides to pass state-regulated training programs before working with patients.
Training Requirements and Recommendations
Home health aides generally have minimal professional and educational requirements. All home health agencies and other employers require home health aides to have met state-mandated training requirements. Home health aides can meet these requirements by enrolling in home health aide courses or programs offered by local vocational or nursing schools. Training programs vary by state and employer, but most require aides to reach a minimum number of training hours (both in the classroom and in hands-on care) and pass a competency exam. Additionally, home health aides can seek voluntary certification to demonstrate proficiency in home health care.
A home health aide education is generally required to work with a home health agency. Certificate programs allow students to meet the minimum number of training hours set by each state. After completing a home health aide certificate program, students can seek immediate employment with home health agencies.
Home health aide certificate programs provide courses on patient care, basic medical care, emergency response and housekeeping duties. Certificate programs usually require one semester of study and teach students to care for residents by administering medications, cooking, cleaning, organizing household goods and assisting with personal hygiene.
Home health aides may take vital signs like pulse or blood pressure. Certificate programs generally meet the training requirements needed to work as a home health aide. Certificate programs may offer courses on:
- Medical terminology
- Home health care and patient support
- Health care supervision
- Home maintenance and organizational skills
Certificate programs usually provide home health aides with sufficient job experience. Some home health agencies may provide on-the-job training, though it is not common. Home health agencies require aides to have at least 16 hours of training experience.
Licenses and Certifications
Although home health aides may not be legally required to be licensed or certified, all employers require home health aides to meet the minimum training requirements set by each state. These training requirements can be met by enrolling in a home health aide certificate program or an on-the-job training program, if offered by an employer.
State-regulated training standards require home health aides to have at least 16 hours of training before working with patients. Home health aides who work with agencies receiving financial reimbursement from Medicaid or Medicare must complete 75 hours of training. Most states require home health aides to pass a competency exam after meeting their training requirements. Completing a training program does not result in certification, but it does display proficiency in home health care to employers. These are considered the minimum requirements: employers may have additional training requirements that must be met prior to employment.
Certification from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice
Voluntary certification is available from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). Certification from the NAHC requires aides to complete 75 hours of training and pass a comprehensive home health exam. With voluntary certification from the NAHC, home health aides may find increased career prospects and hourly wages.
Certification as a Certified Nurse Assistant
A home health aide can also seek certification as a certified nurse assistant (CNA). To become a CNA, an aide must complete 75 hours of state-regulated training and pass a comprehensive health exam. Because the duties, training and skills required of CNAs are similar to those of home health aides, many employers hire CNAs as home health aides.
Workshops and Seminars
The NAHC holds conferences, symposiums, workshops and expositions each year. Most conferences are 2-4 days long and provide home health aides and other personal care workers with invaluable networking opportunities. Conferences are usually held in large cities, though information from conferences and symposiums is available on NAHC's website. Home health and hospice conferences discuss home health practices, trends in patient care and leadership strategies for supervisory home health aides.
Home health care seminars or practicum opportunities lasting 1-4 hours may be available from community or technical colleges that offer home health aide certificate programs. Seminars usually discuss a broad scope of home health care practices, including the housekeeping, maintenance and organizational skills needed to succeed as a home health aide.
Additional Professional Development
Because they work in private residences, home health aides must be professional, trustworthy and extremely responsible. Communication skills, compassion and cooperation with residents are essential to successful home health care. Additionally, home health aides must be in good physical and mental health in order to assist residents with various housekeeping and maintenance tasks.
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