Becoming a certified home health aide is an excellent way to start your career in healthcare. The need for home health aides is growing, with increasing opportunities throughout most of the country. There are many programs available to get you trained and certified in a relatively short amount of time, so you can begin working with patients while pursuing further education.
This guide covers home health aide education requirements, training, and certification. We’ll also discuss the job outlook for this essential occupation.
What is a Home Health Aide?
A home health aide (HHA) is a healthcare worker who cares for patients living in their own homes. An HHA’s patients are typically elderly, chronically ill, living with a disability, or recovering from a serious injury. These patients often need extra support with everyday tasks to allow them to live safely and comfortably in their homes in addition to medical care.
The duties of a home health aide typically include:
- Providing medications and treatment according to a doctor or nurse’s instruction
- Checking and documenting vital signs
- Assisting the patient with personal hygiene and toileting
- Preparing meals and feeding
- Some light housework (such as changing bed sheets or doing dishes)
What qualities does a good Home Health Aide have?
It takes more than just medical knowledge and skill to succeed as a home health aide. You should also have well-practiced social skills (sometimes called “soft skills”) that will help you work well with patients, their families, and other medical professionals.
A good HHA often has these qualities:
- Strong communication skills – You will need to communicate with patients, their families, medical professionals, and others verbally and in writing.
- Empathy and a caring attitude – Caring for another person can mean more than just providing physical support. You’ll likely provide emotional support and a measure of companionship as well.
- Strong time management skills – Managing medication and treatment schedules is a big part of an HHA’s duties and staying on time throughout the day is a must.
- Ability to keep calm under pressure – Medical emergencies and accidents can happen anytime. You must keep a level head if they happen, so you can manage the situation effectively and quickly get your patient the help they need.
Recommended reading: 10 skills needed for Home Health Aides to be prepared for the job
What is the job outlook for Home Health Aides?
The job outlook for home health aides and personal care aides is strong, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment for these occupations is expected to grow by 33% by 2030. The average salary for HHAs and personal care aides was just over $28,000 as of May 2020, though pay varies from state to state and between cities and rural areas.
How to get a Home Health Aide certification?
To become a home health aide in the U.S., you will need:
- A high school diploma or equivalent education
- To complete an approved education and training program
- Pass a competency exam
What is HHA certification?
Home health aide certification simply means that you meet the qualification standards to work as an HHA in your state. Certification is required to accept Medicare and Medicaid as payment for your services. Many home health agencies will not hire uncertified HHAs, though many include certification as part of their on-the-job training program.
To receive your home health aide certification, you will need to complete a recognized training program and pass a competency exam.
Training to become a Home Health Aide
There are many training options available for aspiring HHAs. You can usually complete programs at community colleges, private schools specializing in medical certification, or through your employer. The options available to you may depend on where you live. Though you might do your classroom work online, you will need to complete clinical training in person.
Federal home health education requirements mandate a minimum of 75 hours of training, with at least 16 of these to be supervised practical or clinical training. However, your state government may set additional home health aide requirements. For example, Maine requires HHAs to complete 180 hours of training with 70 hours of practical/clinical instruction.
Recommended reading: Home health aide training, classes, certificate: Guide
Passing the HHA exam
You must pass a competency exam to receive your home health aide certification. This exam varies from state to state but typically includes written and practical sections designed to test your knowledge and skills.
The written section of the test is usually multiple choice. It covers information essential to working as an HHA, from basic medical knowledge and safety to patients’ rights and data collection. You might find study guides and practice tests online to help you prepare.
In the practical section, your skills will be tested using a dummy or a volunteer pretending to be a patient. You will be asked to perform some basic medical procedures, such as measuring blood pressure and taking a temperature, as well as common tasks you will likely encounter on the job. This may include safely transferring a patient into bed or demonstrating the correct way to wash your hands.
How Home Health Aides can protect themselves at work?
Home health aides work closely with people in their own homes. While this can help create a strong bond between carer and patient, it also creates the potential for accidents and mistakes. You may consider business insurance designed for HHAs to help protect you financially.
An HHA may face different claims or lawsuits brought by a patient or their family. Common causes are allegations of negligence, mistakes in your work, a patient suffering an injury while under your care, or accidentally damaging a patient’s personal property. Insurance for home health aides—such as General Liability and Professional Liability coverage—could help you defend yourself against these and other potential risks.
The cost of a lawsuit can be financially crippling, especially if it drags on for months or even years. Business insurance helps by covering your legal expenses and compensation costs in many situations. Your policies could provide a safety net should the worst happen while you’re on the job, so you can work with greater peace of mind and confidence.
Compare insurance for Home Health Aides now with BizInsure.