Online Guide to Home Health Aide Training
Out of all medical careers, training to be a Home Health Aide is fairly easy to come by. In fact, home health care careers in general can be started with minimal education and experience. If you are looking for a rewarding and growing career field with many opportunities, this is the one! There are a number of paid and free training opportunities to help prepare you to care for patients.
Becoming a Home Health Aide can seem overwhelming at first, but the programs take you step-by-step through all you need to know. Even if you have no experience or certification, you can learn how to be a good HHA. There are numerous programs everywhere. All it takes is making a decision and jumping in a program to get started. Before you know it, you will be well on your way to a satisfying career in home health.
Types of HHA Training Programs
You may find free online training sites that you can use to familiarize yourself with concepts and techniques you need to know to be a Home Health Aide. It will give you a good overview even before you start your job search or new position. In fact, the training may help you to land a job and even negotiate a larger starting salary.
Although online HHA training, in most cases, does not lead to certification it can be used as a sort of prep course towards completing actual certification training. Many home health agencies do not require previous experience or certification and will provide on-the-job training. In most cases, the training is provided free of charge by the company. Sometimes you are required to commit a certain number of months working for the agency or you may be asked to pay for the training. In any case, starting employment with an agency that is willing to train is the best way to get your foot in the door.
Regardless of the HHA training you complete, they all cover basic topics to ensure that you are fully equipped to care for a variety of patients and their needs. You will be expected to learn about personal care, homemaking, medical care and miscellaneous tasks. These topics will be learned through classroom textbooks and manuals, as well as hands-on training often in a clinical setting with patients. You will be evaluated on your knowledge and performance of the following patient care skills:
- Oral Hygiene
- Changing Beds
- Light Cleaning
- Checking Vital Signs including: blood pressure, pulse, temperature and respiration.
- Assisting with Medications
- Changing Bandages
- Assisting with Therapeutic Exercise
- Knowledge of Diseases and Illnesses
- Infection Control
- Measuring Fluid Outtake/Intake
- Colostomy or Catheter Care
- Monitoring Patients
- Record Keeping
- Running Errands
- Transporting Patients to Appointments
- Entertaining Patient
- Companionship Training
A physical exam and medical tests, such as for TB (tuberculosis), may be required as well. You will need to complete a certain number of classroom and clinical hours for successful completion. Usually, textbooks and other training materials are included in any courses you take. The lengths of programs vary and can take several days to several months to complete.
Some people opt to pay for programs leading to HHA certification. These may vary widely state to state and among organizations offering the training. Some certification programs are given by organizations and colleges and may lead to the earning of continuing education units (CEUs) or college credits. This all depends on the program and may be reflected in the costs to enroll, which can run several hundreds of dollars and more.Regardless of the type of training, some programs may require you to already hold a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification.
Getting your Home Health Aide Certification
HHA certifications are not always required by home health agencies. However, some organizations may require it if they receive government subsidies to provide services for Medicaid, Medicare or Hospice patients. Therefore, it is to your advantage to obtain certification when possible.
Many agencies provide training and certification classes. You also have the option of taking classes through colleges and other organizations that offer it. HHA certification prepares you for a healthcare career working in nursing care centers, patients’ homes and other facilities.
Benefits of being certified:
Obtaining a certification as an HHA not only prepares you for a new career but it may also help you to be a more competitive applicant. In addition, a certification may result in you starting with a higher salary. In any case, being HHA certified will give you peace of mind knowing that you have the skills and knowledge to care for patients in need. Being properly trained will make your job less stressful and much more rewarding.
HHA Certification Programs:
Certification programs vary depending on the organization offering the training. Some programs may be several hours to a couple of days in length, whereas other courses may be several weeks long. Most programs include a classroom portion where you learn textbook info and a clinical portion where you learn hands-on patient care.
Requirements to begin training to receive a Home Health Aide certification may vary from state to state and among different programs. In general, you will be required to have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent. Typically, you must also be 18 years of age or older and you must be up-to-date on all required vaccinations. In addition, you may be required to pass the following:
- medical exam
- background check
- drug screening
Many advanced programs require prior completion of the Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) certification or other qualifications.
Skills you will learn:
HHA certification training covers everything you need to know about taking care of elderly, disabled and/or chronically ill patients in their homes or other facilities. Skills are learned in the classroom and techniques are practiced with hands-on activities. The following is a list of these skills:
- Personal Hygiene
- Home Safety
- Infection Control
- Medical Terminology
- Illnesses and Diseases
- Physical and Sensory Disabilities
- Range of Motion and Exercise
- Monitoring Patients and Vital Signs
- Ambulation and Transfers
- Food Preparation and Feeding
- Record Keeping
- First Aid
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
- Mental Health
- Responding to Emergencies
- Special Needs
- Patient Etiquette and Ethics
Cost of certification
HHA certification often prepares you for certification at the state level.Just as the program offerings vary, the costs will vary as well. Some agencies will offer training at no cost to you once employed. In other cases, you may be required to pay a fee. Courses offered through colleges are often taken for credit. These programs may provide more in-depth training and can cost hundreds of dollars.
After your trained and certified:
A Home Health Aide certificate is not required in all states, but this is slowly starting to change. Most organizations that work in personal care deal with Medicaid and Medicare, so they can only hire employees that have their certifications in order.
There’s a growing trend in the health industry that has Certified Home Aides filling in for roles that are typically performed by Certified Nursing Assistants. Budget cuts and a lack of qualified staff means that this trend will continue into the future, so most agencies need their applicants to be certified.
When you start your HHA job search, make sure to fill out a resume that you can distribute to employment agencies. Your high-quality resume will help you make a great first impression, and it can help you set yourself apart from other applicants by showcasing your talents.
What does that job entail?
While the job duty requirements of an HHA may differ from agency to agency, you will primarily care for patients in their own homes or residential facilities. Although many patients are elderly, that’s not always the case. Patients often need home health care for illnesses and disabilities that may not be related to old age. If you’re working for agencies that provide services for hospice patients or through federally funded programs, HHA certification often is required. Following is a list of patients you may find yourself being responsible for:
- Chronically Ill
- Terminally Ill or Cancer Patients
- Physically Disabled
- Cancer Patients
- Infants or Children with Disabilities
- Mentally Disabled
- Therapy Patients
- Short Term Patients
- Hospice Patients
How much will you get paid?
In 2012 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for a home health aide was around $21,000 dollars per year or 10.50$ per hour. With ones on the high side earning as much as $29,000 annually and ones on the low side earning around $17,000.
Job advancement opportunities:
There are quite a few opportunities for career advancement for home health aides. When a person first starts out on the job, they perform tasks like cleaning and cooking for their patients. After they have been at the job for a while, they can take on more personal care responsibilities.
Many people in the field decide to pursue their education for career advancement. When they do, their combination of education and experience gives them a leg up on the competition.
CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)
Certified nursing assistants provide patients with basic services when they stay at a medical facility. Nursing assistants are commonly expected to take patients’ vitals, provide basic care and help patients with their daily lives; they can be found working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and nursing homes. CNAs work under the direct supervision of registered nurses and medical care professionals.
A person that is interested in becoming a CNA needs to complete a certifying exam; typically, the training classes for the exam take about one year to complete. Individuals in these programs need to go through hands-on training. During hands-on training, they practice and learn new skills under medical supervision.
LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)
Licensed practical nurses care for patients in medical facilities; they offer care under the supervision of doctors or RNs. Before a person can become an LPN, they need to complete one year of training in a hospital or at a school. After training is complete, they are given a license to work in a medical environment.
LPNs provide basic patient care. It’s common for them to give injections, dress wounds and check catheters. LPNs are responsible for monitoring patients to make sure that they are being properly cared for; they observe and report adverse side-effects that people have to medications that they are taking.
RN (Registered Nurse)
Registered nurses have four main areas that they can specialize in: care for specific conditions, care for a certain group of people, care for certain areas of the body and care in certain environments. Their responsibilities include clerical work, medicine and patient monitoring.
To become a registered nurse, a B.S. or an associate degree from a hospital is needed. Since most institutions need more than an associate degree, a bachelor’s is considered the industry standard. In addition to schooling, RNs must pass a licensing exam called the National Council Licensure Examination.
What is a BSN Degree?
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a four-year degree that teaches people about the science and theories that pertain to the nursing profession. When a student completes this degree, they don’t typically spend much time working with patients; their skills are better suited for working in a scientific, research or leadership role.
When a nurse gets their BSN degree, they open the doors to many lucrative career choices. A BSN isn’t a requirement for professional nurses, but many people in the industry believe that RNs should have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Nurses do their best to prevent illness, and they help patients cope with disease. Their jobs require them to deal with a wide scope of patients and medical professionals daily. Nursing careers are hands-on jobs that focus on providing the best personalized care possible.
The field of nursing has a range of career opportunities, and they offer stable jobs to people from all backgrounds. There are very few professions that give people so much freedom when it comes to where they work, their specialty and their education. The jobs in nursing are varied, so all personality types fit into the nursing world.