How to Become a Home Health Aide
Some home health aides may work under the direction of other health professionals to administer medications to clients.
There is no formal education requirement for home health aides, but most aides have a high school diploma. Home health aides who work for certified home health or hospice agencies must get formal training and pass a standardized test.
Although a high school diploma or equivalent is not generally required, most home health aides have one before entering the occupation. Some formal education programs may be available from community colleges or vocational schools.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Home health aides who work for agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid must get a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation or receive state certification. Training includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition. Aides may take a competency exam to become certified without taking any training. These are the minimum requirements by law; additional requirements for certification vary by state.
In some states, the only requirement for employment is on-the-job training, which employers generally provide. Other states require formal training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home health care agencies. In addition, states may conduct background checks on prospective aides.
Home health aides can be certified by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). Although certification is not always required, employers prefer to hire certified aides. Certification requires 75 hours of training, observation and documentation of 17 skills demonstrating competency, and passing a written exam.
Home health aides may be trained in housekeeping tasks, such as cooking for clients who have special dietary needs. They learn basic safety techniques, including how to respond in an emergency. In addition, there may be specific training needed for certification if state certification is required.
A competency evaluation may be required to ensure that the home health aide can perform some certain tasks. Clients have their own preferences, and aides may need time to become comfortable working with them.
Without additional training, advancement in this occupation is limited.
Detail oriented. Home health aides must follow specific rules and protocols to help take care of clients.
Interpersonal skills. Home health aides must work closely with their clients. Sometimes, clients are in extreme pain or mental stress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be cheerful, compassionate, and emotionally stable. They must enjoy helping people.
Physical stamina. Home health aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They might need to lift or turn clients who have a disability.
Time-management skills. Clients and their families rely on home health aides. Therefore, it is important that aides follow agreed-upon schedules and arrive at their clients’ homes when they are expected.