Home Health Aides - The Complete Guide

What do Home Health Aides do?

Home health aides (HHA) help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or who are simply older adults, who may need assistance with everyday tasks. They provide this help in the home of the patient, instead of in a health facility or institution.

These everyday tasks, often called 'activities of daily living' (ADL), include bathing, dressing, transferring (getting out of bed), using the toilet, eating, and walking. Aides also assist patients with additional tasks, called 'instrumental activities of daily living' (IADL), which include light housework, preparing meals, taking medications, shopping for groceries or clothes, using the telephone, and managing money.

How is being a Home Health Aide different from other, similar jobs?

HHAs can be known by a number of different names, which can make things somewhat confusing. Alternative titles that describe similar roles include:

    * Personal care aide
    * Home caregiver
    * Certified nursing assistant
    * Patent care technician
    * Residential assistant
    * Home attendants

Typically, HHA's have similar job duties to these other jobs. However, there can be some small, but important differences.

HHAs often provide basic health-related services, which most of these other jobs do not. These health related activities include:

    * Checking patients' pulse rate, temperature, and respiration rate
    * Maintaining records of patient care, condition, progress, or problems
    * Assisting with simple prescribed exercises
    * Assisting with medications administration
    * Changing simple dressings
    * Giving massages
    * Providing skin care
    * Assisting with braces and artificial limbs
    * With additional training, home health aides also assist with medical equipment such as ventilators

What are the training requirements?

A high school diploma, or any other formal education, is not required. It is helpful for an individual to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

To become an aide you must have formal training and pass a competency test that meets Federal Government guidelines in order to work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid. The majority of care in the United States is provided by these types of agencies. Additional training requirements vary from State to State. A Home Health Aide may seek voluntary certification from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). Certification is a voluntary demonstration that the individual has met industry standards. Certification requires the completion of 75 hours of training; observation and documentation of 17 skills for competency, assessed by a registered nurse; and the passing of a written exam developed by NAHC. Licensing as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is required by some states.