If you’re looking for a job with flexible hours and a relaxed setting, Home Health Aide training can prepare you for a career in home care in just weeks. At the end of your training, you’ll be eligible to challenge the NNAAP (National Nurse Aide Assessment Program) or any other exam required for certification in your state. Once certified, you’ll be ready to enter the third-fastest growing occupation in America over the next 10 years – home care!
Many home care programs are even offered online, and available to anyone seeking Home Health Aide certification (i.e. becoming a CHHA) – including recent high school graduates and those interested in changing careers.
Introduction to HHA Training – What to Expect
As mentioned above, the goal of Home Health Aide training is to prepare you to take – and pass – the certification exam.
Therefore, the material covered consists of a combination of patient care theory (included on the test in the form of multiple-choice questions) and actual hands-on skills training in clinical settings.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Certified HHA?
The number of study hours you are required to spend in training can vary somewhat by state. With that said, the U.S. Code for Public Health does spell-out a set of federal minimums (see here) that Home Health Aide training programs must meet in order for their graduates to be eligible for employment.
These federal minimums include:
- HHA programs must contain at least 75 total hours of instruction
- Students must complete a minimum of 15 hours of training in a clinical setting
As stated above, states may have their own additional requirements as well (e.g. Maine mandates that students complete 180 hours of training). In most cases, however, the total number of hours required to become an HHA will not exceed the federal minimum.
Although you may find that admission requirements for each school will be slightly different, for the most part, applicants will simply need to meet the following prerequisites:
- Pass a criminal background screening
- Have been tested for tuberculosis
- Hold a high school diploma (this is not necessary for many programs)
Because classroom material will be presented in English, and will typically require some reading and writing, there may be a language and basic skills test administered as part of the admissions process as well.
A Typical Day in Class
A typical day in Home Health Aide class will focus on such topics as personal care services, nutrition and patient care tasks (see the table below).
Instruction may include lectures, watching videos, completing exercises on computers or any combination thereof.
The Clinical Segment of your Training
At least half of each course will usually also involve clinical training at a partner facility. During these sessions, students will be able to observe current professionals at work and apply the patient care practices they’ve studied with real live patients.
To see an example of the type of skill you’ll practice during your clinical training, watch the embedded video on making a bed while it’s occupied by the patient.
Is Certification Mandatory for Home Health Aides?
Home Health Aide certification is not required in order to work in personal care in every state at this time. However, because most jobs are available through agencies that work with Medicaid and Medicare (both of which require their partners to hire only CHHAs), this is quickly changing.
There is also a growing trend in the healthcare industry wherein CHHAs are being asked to fill roles traditionally held by Certified Nursing Assistants at hospitals, clinics, etc. The result of these aforementioned trends is that the majority of Home Health Aide jobs available around the country require applicants to be certified.
Working as a Personal Care Aide
If you are either unwilling or unable to pursue certification through a formal training program, but are still interested in working in home care, it is possible in most states to find work as a PCA (Personal Care Aide). This position is similar to that of an HHA in that you will be able to provide basic care for individuals in their homes or at assisted living facilities, but is different in that you will not be permitted to perform direct patient care services.
For a full breakdown of the differences between the CHHA and PCA, check out the official career profile from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Choosing the Right Program
A quick search of the school listings featured on this site will reveal that there are likely multiple HHA training programs available in your area. So, the question becomes “how do you know which one is right for you?”
The easy answer is that you’ll need to look for a few key elements: accreditation, cost and class availability.
Any school you consider attending should accredited through the ACHC (Accreditation Commission for Health Care) which oversees home health programs around the country. See their official website for more information on ACHC accreditation and why it is important.
Although not as expensive as a four-year college program, there is still a cost associated with completing home health training. When you contact each school, you’ll want to be sure to ask about the cost of tuition and any other associated expenses so you’ll be able to accurately judge whether or not it fits your budget. You’ll also want to find out about financial assistance, as many schools offer loans, scholarships, etc. that can help pay for your education.
Online vs. Traditional Classes
The final thing you’ll want to consider when looking for a program is the availability of classes. This means not only finding a program that offers classes at times that fit your personal schedule, but can also mean finding schools that have online courses.
Ready to Find Your Program?
If you’re ready to find an accredited Home Health Aide training program near you, start your search by entering your zip code into the search feature on this site!