As a Home Health Aide, you will be working closely with an elder or ailing person in their home, interacting with them at a personal level, being present in the home, with or without the family. The patient’s physical and mental well-being hinges heavily upon you, and you are in a position to both improve or cause detriment to them.
This is the exact reason why families are so meticulously careful when choosing a home health care aide for their loved ones, and so wary, at times too. After all, they have to know enough about you to entrust the patient in your care and also let you into the home.
This is also the reason why agencies that hire HHAs have rigorous processes using which they screen aspirants before they employ you as an aide. Any mistake done by an aide of theirs at a client’s home makes them liable to the client and impacts their reputation in the industry, and this can be disastrous for the business.
The agency may talk to you and find out if you have the necessary qualities like compassion, empathy, patience and so on that will help you do your jobs with the right attitude. They may also want to have a measurable tool that tells them how well-suited you are for this line of work. Certification as a home health aide makes this task easy for them.
Is certification mandatory?
Well, no, certification is not mandatory, and you CAN become a Home Health Aide without undergoing a certification course. However, there are certain facts that you should be aware of here.
The most important is this- if you want to work with a home health agency that accepts Medicare, the certification is a federal government requirement that you have to fulfill. The government has clearly defined rules and regulations for the certification requirements of Home Health Aides in a proprietary agency (that is, ‘a private, profit-making agency or profit-making hospital’). You can visit the cms.gov page or use the link given at the bottom for a comprehensive idea of these requirements.
Keep in mind that the law also has a minimum requirement for the training hours you have to put in. However, if you work for an HHA agency that does not accept Medicare, then they may not insist on certification at all. This is the first distinction that you need to understand with regards to certification.
State laws vary from place to place, and certification requirements also change in line. For example, to become an HHA in Vermont, you have to be a Licensed Nursing Assistant, but in Washington, the law only asks for 75 hours of training and 16 hours of ‘on the job training’ to be completed successfully.
One point that is important here is that certification does enhance your credentials. If you are looking to get the best salary in the marketplace as a Home Health Aide or get employed by the most reputed HHA agency, then having the right credentials might give you an edge over others with no such certification. Getting certified may also help you attract better pay.
In fact, you can negotiate for a better pay based on your certification. If you are unsure about average pay scales for HHAs, here is a quick summary of how much you can expect. Read through before you talk to your prospective employer about the salary you expect.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice offers certification programs for HHAs. By the time you complete this program, you will have 75 hours of training, and then also pass a written test and a practical test. This is not all that you may have to do to become a certified HHA in some states, but as mentioned before, the rules vary from state to state.
Keep in mind that it is also possible to become an HHA without a high school diploma or formal training or certification. However, this depends on who your employer is and what their requirements are and also which state you live in.
If you do want to enroll in a formal training program to hone your skills and improve your credentials in the marketplace, then you can search for health care staff who take such training sessions or HHA agencies that offer training too.
Formal certification can help you improve your credentials while embarking on a career as a home healthcare aide. In addition, the federal government has some rules about certification as well, as might your state government. Understand these requirements well in advance so that you can enroll in for formal training if necessary.