Home health aides help elderly, ill or injured clients with the activities of daily living, including bathing and dressing. In some states, they may be allowed to carry out simple medical tasks, such as taking temperatures and administering medication.
HHAs are primarily employed with home healthcare agencies, which assign them to individuals living at home or in long-term care facilities. Certificate programs can't be completed totally online due to hands-on training requirements, including clinicals and on-campus classes. The certificate courses cover basic patient care, light housekeeping skills and emergency medical procedures, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Certification regulations vary from state to state. On-the-job training is sufficient in some states, while others require a formal training course, usually offered through a community college or technical school. Healthcare employers who receive compensation from the government in the form of Medicare or Medicaid payments are legally required to ensure that their HHAs complete a 75-hour training program and a minimum of 16 supervised hours of training.
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Home Health Aide Certificate
Home health aide certificate programs are designed to teach students to care for patients in a home healthcare environment. Skills acquired through this program might include basic life support and an understanding of medical terminology. Students learn to care for a patient's basic human needs, as well as how to care for patients with illnesses or special dietary needs. Although certification is often voluntary in this field, many programs are designed to prepare students to take national certification exams offered by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.
Program Specifics and Requirements
Although HHA certificate programs aren't available fully online, they are offered in hybrid formats, which allow students to complete some coursework online, while also attending classes on campus or completing clinical experiences in person. Although programs vary, some aspects of the online component may include an electronic video library, threaded discussions, interactive activities and live chats.
Credits and timelines may vary, but some online Home Health Aide Certificate programs allow students to complete coursework in as little as six weeks. Additional clinical components may also be required.
Home Health Aide Introduction
This course provides a broad overview of the typical job duties a HHA can be expected to perform, as well as the role he or she is to play within the client's home when working with family members or other healthcare professionals. Topics may include personal health maintenance, preparation and storage of food, and social needs sensitivity.
Designed as an introductory course, basic medical vocabulary is introduced, as well as commonly used abbreviations and symbols used in medical charts and other related documents.
Students are introduced to different types of nutritious foods and meal preparation techniques. Emphasis is placed on the correlation between healthy diets and the prevention of certain types of diseases.
Basic Life Support
This class focuses primarily on essential life-saving techniques that all healthcare providers should know. Topics include injury management, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), burns and other related subjects.
The class is a basic skills mathematics course, covering units of measurement and their relation to dosage calculations. HHAs may only dispense medication if it has been pre-poured by a nurse or other more highly trained healthcare professional.
Depending on the needs of a patient, job duties for HHAs vary widely. Light housekeeping and day-to-day tasks, such as feeding, dressing, or accompanying a patient to an appointment are typical. While working under the supervision of a more advanced healthcare professional, like a nurse, a HHA may check some vital statistics, such as taking a temperature or a pulse.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for home health aides is projected to remain extremely strong, growing 38% between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Also noted by the BLS, about 820,630 individuals were employed as home health aides in 2015, earning a median annual salary of $21,920. Pay increases may be available as work experience and additional responsibility also increase, but advancement is generally limited in this field without further certification.
Continuing Education Information
Those home health aides who seek national or state certification may be required to complete continuing education courses to maintain certification, although criteria vary by state and employer. Due to the lack of advancement opportunities in the field, some HHAs choose to complete additional certificate programs to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or earn an associate's or bachelor's degree and become a registered nurse.
Aspiring home health aides may get the training they need form a home health aide certificate program. While these short programs offer some online course work, much of the training is done in-person and through on-the-job training, given the hands-on nature of the profession.