If you’re looking to become a Home Health Aide (HHA), you’ll need to be certified. Most agencies work with Medicare recipients, which means there are strict requirements to remain eligible. To take on the duties of an HHA, you need experience and training in every aspect of the role and prepare for any eventuality.
Below, we’ll break down the specifics of becoming an HHA and why training is essential to do the job properly.
What Home Health Aides Are
A Home Health Aide (HHA) is someone who assists in the daily life of a senior by helping them with everyday tasks, transportation, and much more. HHA services allow seniors to age in the comfort of their own homes without the risk of accidents or injury. The typical duties of an HHA include bathing, meal planning, administering medication, grooming, and bathroom help to name a few.
In most cases, an HHA provides services ordered by a physician or practitioner to fulfill the patient’s care needs. Unlike caregivers, HHAs have permission to provide simple health-related services like rehabilitation exercises, pain relief services, operating medical equipment like oxygen, and administering prescribed medication.
HHA Training Requirements
The requirements to work as an HHA vary by state. Typically, there is a minimum of 75 hours of training involved to be an HHA which gets split between classroom time and supervised practical training conducted by a registered nurse (RN). In addition, 16 of the 75 hours must include clinical training.
In addition, the program must also cover the following topics:
- The expectations, requirements, and needs of the role and those of the patient.
- Communication skills
- How to properly observe, report, and document your patient’s status
- How to maintain a healthy, clean, and safe environment.
- How to perform proper and safe personal hygiene (i.e., bathing, oral hygiene, personal hygiene)
- How to maintain proper nutrition and hydration.
- How to recognize changing conditions or emergencies.
Minimum Education for HHAs
There is no minimum education requirement to become an HHA. This means that someone without a high school diploma or GED may become an HHA. However, a home care, hospice, or healthcare agency may require one of the previously mentioned educational certificates to be eligible to work for the company.
Does a Home Health Aide Need Certification?
Yes, to become a home health aide, you need to complete certification. If the home care agency you work for accepts Medicare, then any HHAs employed must be certified. This means that the agency has approval by Medicare and meets health and safety requirements. To stay compliant, employees who provide services to clients must maintain certification.
Where & How to Get Certified as an HHA
To become certified as an HHA in Pennsylvania, find a training course/program approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Also, be sure to pursue an accredited training course; this is to ensure the course you take covers all relevant information and satisfies all requirements outlined by the state. Once you’ve completed the certification, you must complete 12 hours of continuing education training and a competency test every year you remain a home health aide. You must also pass a background check, child abuse clearance, and a TB screening.
HHA training programs are typically offered by local health care agencies, community colleges, vocational schools, or online. On average, these training programs take about six weeks to complete, but they can also be completed quicker.
There are three main ways to become an HHA in Pennsylvania:
- Pass an HHA program approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Pass a nurse aid certification/training course that’s sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
- Pass a competency test from the health care agency where you’ll be employed.
Competency evaluations for the role of an HHA are mostly the same, requiring you to have knowledge in the following subjects (Please note: the items in bold need evaluation by performing on a patient or pseudo-patient):
- Communication skills, the ability to read, write, and verbally communicate information to patients, representatives, caregivers, and other HHAs.
- The ability to observe, report, and document your patient’s status and the care/service furnished.
- Reading and recording temperature, pulse, and respiration.
- Procedures for infection prevention and control.
- Basic elements of body functioning and changes in body function that should be reported to a supervisor.
- Maintaining a cleaning, safe, and healthy environment.
- The ability to recognize emergencies and the knowledge of instituting emergency procedures and their application.
- The physical, emotional, and developmental needs of and ways to work with the populations, including the need for respect for the patient, his or her privacy, and his or her property.
- Proper and safe techniques for performing personal hygiene and grooming tasks like:
- Bed bath
- Sponge, tub, and shower bath
- Hair shampooing in sink, tub, and bed
- Nail and skin care
- Oral hygiene
- Toileting and elimination
- Safe transfer techniques and ambulation.
- Normal range of motion and positioning
- Proper nutrition and fluid intake
- Recognizing and reporting changes to skin condition.
- All other tasks chosen by the agency for the HHA to perform, permitted under state law.
Why HHA Certifications are Important
HHA certifications are important because the role of an HHA is important. Home health aides provide a valuable service to seniors, the disabled, or the ill. Their services allow people to continue living in their home whilst receiving care. In addition, these certifications are important because they ensure HHAs are ready for any situation and that they’re prepared to provide the best care possible for their clients.
How Home Care Agencies Help
Home care agencies like JEVS Care at Home work with HHAs to ensure they have the tools and resources necessary to support their clients. At JEVS, we’re passionate about high-quality home care, so we hold our team to high standards. We ensure all of our HHAs have passed our written exam, orientation, and we also provide annual first aid and CPR training. The HHAs we work with are prepared for anything. In addition, we stand by our HHAs and caregivers by providing the necessary resources, tools, and training they’ll need to provide the highest quality care available.