How to Become a Home Health Aide

Updated on April 15, 2018
Nanohanakan Community Center for Seniors
Nanohanakan Community Center for Seniors | Source

Work and Rewards

The work of a home health aide requires physical labor and the ability to interact well with clients that are elderly, physically, and/or mentally challenged, or ill with chronic conditions.

HHAs and home companions also help care for individuals that are at home recovering from surgery and do not require the more intensive services of a nursing home or rehabilitation center. Probably the most important role of the HHA is to help an elderly person stay in their own home rather than to enter an assisted living facility.

A friend of over 20 years became an HHA after a few years in other careers. She worked for a home health services agencies, gathering skills and experience. She found the work time consuming, physically tiring, but rewarding, One of her clients hired her full-time until his death. At that time, she inherited his condominium, new car, savings, and other items.

This is not the usual outcome of full-time positions as an HHA, home companion or Certified Nursing/Nurse's Aide, but is an occasional occurrence. Otherwise, the starting pay is at the lower end of the Healthcare Industry pay scale, increasing over time. HHAs that go on to open their own home health businesses make larger salaries. One of my students began as the HHA and progressed to LPN after earning a GED, with plans to further her studies through tuition reimbursement offered on the job.

Sports clinic in the German Alps. Techs and Aides work in such places as well.
Sports clinic in the German Alps. Techs and Aides work in such places as well. | Source

Sample Job Descriptions

Home health aides and personal care aides have similar duties and training. Home health aides work in clients' homes, hospitals, clinics, hospices, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, and adult day care centers.

These aides often have a high school diploma, but also a demonstrated 10th grade level of reading and writing, and mathematics knowledge of at least 9th-grade level, which includes pre-algebra. Some US States do not require the high school diploma for licensure.

Home Health Aide Certification is available through short training programs in high schools, vocational schools, and independently-owned schools. From time to time, county and city funds are available to furnish free HHA training through a list of approved training providers. Basic PC skills and good interpersonal relations are also required. The personal and home care aides do not require licensure but do similar work.

Some Tasks Are Less Glamorous Duties

Some job duties of the Home Health Aide can be very physically challenging and tiring, even boring at times. Others can be enjoyable. Any or all of these duties appear in job descriptions:

  • doing laundry,
  • changing bed linens,
  • grocery shopping,
  • planning menus and cooking,
  • helping clients in and out of bed, and assisting with prosthetics, helping client walk,
  • bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming clients,
  • taking vital signs,
  • providing massage and skin care,
  • providing range-of-motion and other exercises,
  • providing transportation to doctors' appointments, physical therapy, etc.
  • running errands,
  • providing client education on nutrition, personal care, and household tasks,
  • keeping accurate records of services performed and client progress,
  • working as a member of a treatment or social services team,
  • taking direction from a Registered Nurse (RN) or other licensed healthcare professional.

Certifications

  • Driver's License
  • HHA Certificate
  • CPR and Basic Life Saving Certification
  • Pre-employment physician's Health Clearance: negative TB skin test and/or CXR and other state-mandated tests.

BENEFITS

Some companies provide any or all of the following benefits for full-time HHA work:

  • Employee and Family Health Coverage
  • Employer-contributed Pension Plan
  • Scheduled time off, Vacations and Sick Time
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • 403(b) or other Retirement Plan

Healthcare positions of all kinds need to be filled around the world in interesting cultures.
Healthcare positions of all kinds need to be filled around the world in interesting cultures. | Source

Courses Included in Many HHA Certificate Programs

  • Introduction to Body Systems
  • Introduction to Nutrition
  • Introduction to Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy Aide Training
  • Geriatric Clients
  • HIV/AIDS Awareness Training
  • Patient Communication
  • Patient Mobility
  • Patient Personal Care
  • Phlebotomy
  • Respiratory Equipment Training
  • Respiratory Therapy Aide
  • Recording Vital Signs
  • Understanding Vital Signs
  • Basic Laboratory Equipment

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish MS 

        6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Call your local school district and see if they have an adult class for HHA. It's usually 2 weeks, sometimes 4 or 6, and they can provide the certification test. Another choice is to call the local county jobs office or a local hospital and ask.

      • profile image

        6 years ago

        How do you get your HHA Certification ?

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish MS 

        6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        To move to Florida, you first need to check with US Immigration to see if Canada is on the Annual List of countries whose citizens are NOT permitted to move to USA - you may be able to still get a Visa for work or school, though. (There is a long list of countries compiled every year.) If Canadians are permitted to move here permanently to US in 2012, then contact a local university in the part of Florida that interests you and ask the proper department representative whether your credentials will transfer and what further courses you need to complete here.

      • profile image

        wondering 

        6 years ago

        hi i work as a psw/hca in ontario canada and was thinking of starting to look for a job in Florida because we want to move there, how hard would it be to find a job there and would i have to take any extra courses to change from working in canada to the us, also is the demand that great that certain companies might pay u to move there to work?

      • profile image

        Olivia 

        7 years ago

        I am a certified HHA and work with hospice patients.

        I took this job while taking a break from school. I was working towards my bachelors in Psychology and my Nursing degree.

        I'm sad to think that eventually I'll go back to school and move on to another profession...

        It is not a glamorous job, but I feel that the little things I do everyday change someone's day for the better. And taking into consideration that my patients don't have much time left, it makes me feel that my job isn't that simple after all.

        I guess I'm lucky that I really love my job & my agency treats me very well. My patients (and my families) always tell me how much they appreciate me. I am sure nobody will ever leave me anything in their will (my contract doesn't allow it anyways). But when my agency tells me that they have trouble finding someone to cover for me if I need a day off, because my patients don't want anyone else besides me it is all worth it.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish MS 

        7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Thanks for all the comments; and for your detailed post as well, Support Med.

        Administrator, thanks for the link.

      • profile image

        Administrator 

        7 years ago

        Very detailed information. Good delivery very comprehensive

      • Support Med. profile image

        Support Med. 

        7 years ago from Michigan

        This hub is great detailing the job descriptions of a HHA. Have some experience there. And they are known by many names, including caregivers and nurses assistant. As for being disrespected, it depends on where you work and for whom (especially small agencies) you work for. Lots of work and yet at times, as you stated, it can be boring, but when the HHA and client (I like to call them 'my patient,' LOL, have a good rapport, it is very rewarding. The standards are rising, which makes me to believe that all HHAs will have to be certified in the near future. There are many agencies, especially hospitals, who will not hire you unless you are certified. How far you go depends on what you want to achieve and are willing/able to take the necessary steps to get there, and the company you work for. All HHAs will not qualify for the reimbursement package (some agencies do not offer it and most hospitals will if you have been an employee with them for a certain length of time). Because times are changing, yes, many LPN's and RN's are now doing home care as well, which should let the HHA realize they should do all they can to upgrade their education for better pay. Even certified medical assistants are also doing home care, as the need for home care is really great. And you are right, you have to have the stamina for it and interpersonal skills are a must. There are some HHAs who for whatever reason decide to stay at that level and if it works for them, great. I think all HHAs should further their education, because the more you know, the more skills you can present to the employer and client (and greater the possibily of deleting some of those job descriptions off of the list)!! I can understand the frustration of BobbiRant as all of my experiences have not been great and the pay has not been all grand, but I am confident in the knowledge and experience I have gained and realize that if you upgrade your education, even if you do the same job, the pay is greater (as long as you are with the right company-that's a whole 'nother story). But, it is possible. I am seeing, especially after having endured a season of unemployment--that the skills of a HHA are extremely important and there are a variety of ways in which you may receive pay from the knowledge and experience that you have gained. To all HHAs, nurse assistants, etc. who read this: YOU ROCK!! And don't let anyone belittle you and if you find yourself working for a company who disrespects your position or you are surrounded by co-workers (crazy, but even lots of HHAs are not very cordial to each other in some cases), then by all means, look for another company to work for. The agencies are endless, so keep moving forward. Great hub/voted/rated.

      • annieloulaurel profile image

        annieloulaurel 

        7 years ago

        Are caregivers part of this Home Health Aide?

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish MS 

        7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Good, and I hope BobbiRant does more with HHA advocacy!

      • writer83 profile image

        writer83 

        7 years ago from Cyber Space

        Patty, i must say that this post opened my mind about home health aide. I really learned something from it. Thank you! Till my next visit in your website.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish MS 

        7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        And some professions make it a habit of treating college students poorly - That happened to me; and 16 hours I've heard about and think it's too hard, even if a nurse works Sat/Sun with 5 days off. Here it used to be 12-hr-shifts weekends, now it's 16 as you say. I hope these nurses are exercising for stamina.

      • BobbiRant profile image

        BobbiRant 

        7 years ago from New York

        Yes I was one because there are few jobs with compatible hours to attend college so that is what I did. Tuition reimbursement is if you continue in the health field. Nursing may pay well but I hate those hours and 16 hour shifts many times.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        7 years ago from London, UK

        That must be such a wonderful and satisfying job. Thank you for your splendid hub.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish MS 

        7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        I must ask why you stayed so long in an entry level job title, which HHA is exactly? It is not a career position and not meant to be. How long before you gained your advanced education?

        If a 60-year-old divorced woman with no HS diploma could (in three years) work as an HHA and simultaneously earn a GED, earn the LPN license, and earn the RN license for a higher-paying career (age 65 and still loves her job), then I wonder that others cannot. RNs here with a couple years' experience make $36/hour and more.

        In some markets, some people like to remain HHAs; in many, HHAs should study and work up. Tuition reimbursment is very much available here for that, especially when an HHA works in a clinic or hospital. I agree that HHAs should not be mistreated, but I see it (HHA) as a temporary, stepping-stone, entry level job in the healthcare field.

        If you are advocating and beginning an organzation to increase repsect and opportunity for these workers, than I am for it.

        Thanks for your experiences.

      • BobbiRant profile image

        BobbiRant 

        7 years ago from New York

        I was a HHA for several years and I sure saw no pay increases or benefits of any kind. Yet many agencies charge $75 per hour to the clients and pay the HHA practically nothing. Just another industry taking advantage of the elderly and their employees. But like all scams, it is a growing industry. These jobs seldom get respect and are what I consider what helps make the 'working poor, the working poor' while many people in other industries scorn poor people. I just may need to do a hub about it one day.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish MS 

        7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Exactly.

      • profile image

        WildIris 

        7 years ago

        Yikes! In home health care is a growing field, and I'm sure as the demands increase regulations will too. This sentence could be misleading, "At that time, she inherited his condominium, new car, savings, and other items. This is not the usual outcome of full-time positions as an HHA, home companion or Certified Nursing/Nurse's Aide, but is an occasional occurrence." Elder abuse is real. To go into HHA with even the remotest of desires to obtain your clients wealth after death is disingenuous.

      • LillyGrillzit profile image

        Lori J Latimer 

        7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

        This is a great Hub Sharing in Twitter and fb. Very helpful! Your Hubs are alwayss Good! Thank you.

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