November was National Home Care and Hospice Month. By 2025, home care is expected to replace hospitals and other settings as the primary location for health care in the country. The growth will no doubt increase the demand for home health aides, already one of America’s fastest-growing jobs.

Through 2026, home health aide and personal care aide jobs are forecasted to grow by 39%-47%. The annual mean wage in the home health care services industry is $23,830. [] HHAs provide an important service to the nation’s seniors, most of whom prefer to age in place. Although home health aides don’t focus on the medical aspect of care as a registered nurse might, they may be supervised by the patient’s health care provider or the patient’s family members if the HHA provides direct personal care rather than work for a home health care agency.

If your career aspiration is to be a home health aide, then a certification will improve your job prospects and may even attract a higher salary. This post offers insights into how you can obtain HHA training and certification.

Minimum requirements to work as a home health aide

Even though there are no formal education requirements for HHAs, most aides have a high school diploma or GED. A few states may require a minimum amount of post high school education, while some may also require standardized testing and hands-on competency assessment before the HHA can begin working with a client. This applies regardless of whether you plan to work as an independent agent and provide direct services or work for a certified home health agency.

Becoming a certified home health aide

A national certification is offered by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), a non-profit organization representing the United States’ 33,000 home care and hospice organizations. You must demonstrate skills in 17 competency areas, which include taking temperature and pulse rates, communication skills, knowledge about hygiene and fluid intake, and an understanding of emergencies and emergency procedures. Although you don’t need previous experience as an HHA, you must have completed 75 hours of instruction in health care concepts and medication issues.

Enroll in a full-time or online home health aide program

If you have a high school diploma, you can obtain training and become eligible for NAHC certification by enrolling in one of the many home health aide programs offered by your state’s community colleges. Typically, programs can be completed in 2-6 weeks. As you can still work as an HHA without a certification, consider the number of hours of instruction and program curriculum to make an informed decision.

For instance, New York schools offer home health training through 2- and 4-year public schools. Programs are taught in English and Spanish. The program content and admission requirements vary from school to school, most often requiring a Certificate of Health and a drug test.

The home health aide program at Fingers Lake Community College, for instance, teaches nutrition, meal preparation, budgeting, preventing accidents, and assisting patients with exercise programs and medical equipment. SUNY Westchester Community College’s HHA program focuses on patient care physiology, fundamentals, anatomy, nutrition and CPR, as well as skill development in areas of housekeeping, and bathing and feeding a patient.

You can study at a home health aide school within your state or in a different state. Out-of-state programs will generally cost you substantially more. For instance, tuition and fees at California’s Santa Barbara City College amount to $1,374 for in-state and $8,086 for out-of-state students respectively.

There is also the option to taking home health aide classes in a hybrid online-offline format wherein you can complete some coursework online and the rest in an on-campus classroom setting. Online learning is enabled through live chats, interactive discussions and electronic video libraries.

  • Determine the home health care career you want to embark upon; e.g.: are you interested in a course that combines home health aide and certified nursing assistant (CNA) preparation?

  • Research home health aide training programs in your city to understand your options

  • Check if the college has tie-ups with local home health care agencies or offers campus recruitment

  • Keep an eye out for subsidized or free two week HHA training as a starting point for a job and future certification

Training from home health agencies

Certified and insured home health agencies provide part-time, intermittent health care and support services. They may also provide long-term nursing and home health aide services, as well as physical, occupational and speech therapy, nutrition services, and medical supplies and equipment.

If you have completed a home health aide program, the agency may evaluate you on topics such as nutrition, anatomy, communication and personal care skills. Some home health agencies also provide training to home health aides, which includes standardized written tests and competency assessments to prepare the aides prior to assigning them to clients. These programs may be voluntary or mandatory. In either case, inquire if the program leads to an NAHC certification.

 

Published by Peter Garlow