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Friday, 8 October 2021

How to Become a Home Health Aide

If you're looking for an entry-level job in the medical field where you can really make a difference in people's lives, a home health aide (HHA) might be perfect. As an HHA, you're trained to give care in private homes and residential facilities. This means you'll probably have flexible hours and tasks, so every day is a little different! To get a better idea of how to become an HHA, read a few of the most common questions.


[Edit]What do home health aides do?

  1. You'll visit a patient's home and help them with basic care tasks. Your job description will be different for every patient you look after. For instance, you might spend an hour or two at their home while you bathe them or work with them to prepare a meal. You may even wash their laundry or help them do exercises and you'll probably need to keep a detailed care record, especially if you're giving oxygen or medication.[1]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 1 Version 4.jpg
    • As an HHA, you might be full-time, part-time, or on-call depending on what your patients need.

[Edit]What are the requirements?

  1. A high-school degree is great, but not required. Some high schools even offer basic health care courses that can help prepare you to become an HHA. Check with your state's board of nursing for state-specific requirements. Instead of requiring a medical or advanced educational degree, you usually just need home health aid training.[2]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 2 Version 3.jpg
  2. Complete at least 75 hours of home health aid training. Even though state requirements vary, federal guidelines require a minimum of 74 training hours. Half of HHAs do their training at local community colleges, although home health agencies also offer training.[3]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 3 Version 4.jpg
  3. Take the Medical Aide Certification Exam (MACE). Some states require you to pass the MACE in order to be an HHA. This national exam is a multiple-choice computer-based exam and it covers information you should have learned during your training. Specifically, it will test your knowledge of your HHA duties, how to properly give medication, how to report a patient's health condition, and ethical issues surrounding care.[4]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 4 Version 4.jpg
    • Check with the testing website to see if you can take the exam online at home.[5] If you can't, your training facility should give you testing dates and locations.
    • You'll need to pay a $120 exam fee when you register to take the exam.

[Edit]How long does it take to become an aide?

  1. You need to log between 75 and 180 hours of training depending on your state. Federal regulations put training at a minimum of 75 hours although some states like Alaska and Maine require between 140 and 180 hours. Of the training hours, at least 16 of them must be supervised and you have to log 12 hours of continuing education every year.[6]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 5 Version 3.jpg
    • You might choose to enroll in your local community college if they offer a home health aide course. These usually last 1 term and cover safety issues (like handling bodily fluids), how to give home care, and providing specialized care. Since these are often hands-on classes, you'll be training in homes and learning in the classroom.

[Edit]What kind of practical skills do I need?

  1. Most of your job will be giving physical care to a patient. This might mean getting them dressed or helping them bathe, for instance. As an HHA, you'll also offer emotional support. You may talk with them so they feel less lonely or help them get them out of their home for a walk. This means you'll need good communication skills and have compassion, especially if your patient is struggling or needs extra support. For example, you may take courses on caring for elderly patients or patients with chronic illnesses so you have a better understanding of what they're going through.[7]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 6 Version 4.jpg
    • Since you'll probably have a few patients a day, you'll need to manage your time well and be organized.
    • You might find that you're also communicating with the patient's family. They may be discussing care options with you and you'll need to act as a go-between with them and the home health agency.

[Edit]What's the difference between a CNA and an HHA?

  1. A CNA works in organized healthcare settings and can't give medication. Although CNAs and HHAs give basic healthcare like bathing, dressing, and grooming patients, CNAs work in hospitals or nursing homes while HHAs usually work in a patient's home. This means that as an HHA, you might help out in other ways—going on walks with the patient or grocery shopping for them, for instance. Since they're not in a care facility, you might need to give them medication or care for wounds that are healing.[8]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • For example, you might need to wash and look after a patient's feet if they've got complications from diabetes.
    • Some states require that you become a CNA before becoming an HHA so check your state's regulations.
    • If you prefer to work with other health care professionals, you may like the CNA job since you're at a hospital or nursing home. HHAs spend more time alone or with patients.

[Edit]Does a CNA or HHA make more money?

  1. Usually, a CNA is paid more. In general, the 2018 median salary for CNAs is around $30,800 a year while the 2018 median salary for HHAs is $24,200. This is because CNAs are often hired by clinics or private practices which might pay more than a home health care agency.[9]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 8 Version 2.jpg
    • There are usually more HHA job opportunities than CNA positions so you may have better luck starting as an HHA.

[Edit]How do I find a job as a home health aide?

  1. Once you're qualified, check your local newspaper or call a home health agency. The Department of Health and Human Services revealed that most HHAs found their jobs by checking advertisements in the newspaper, on TV, or on the radio. You may also know about potential HHA jobs if you work in another healthcare setting. Don't forget that family and friends may know of possible HHA jobs, too.[10]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • If a home health agency isn't currently hiring, check back in another week. New jobs frequently open up in the home healthcare field so it pays to check.
  2. Fill out an application and give your resume to land the position. The agency may direct you to fill out an online application or you can drop one of along with your resume. If you don't hear anything from the agency within a few days, call them and ask about setting up an interview. This shows that you're eager and want the job.[11]
    Become a Home Health Aide Step 10.jpg
    • Your chances at getting an HHA job are great if you've completed your training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 34% growth in HHA jobs within the next 10 years.
    • If you're called for an interview, be detailed about what experience you gained during training. You'll probably need to give specific examples of care that you gave to someone in their home.

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