Taking that first step to do anything is always the most difficult!
Making the first move towards home health aide certification (HHA) is no less important than any other decision in your life.
This decision can land you a great home health aide job in 2022, a rewarding career and a means to support you and your family.
Trying to find concise and accurate information on how to actually get there can be difficult.
There are thousands of articles, hundreds of websites and government documents to pour through just to get decent information.
And, many times you will be hustled into purchasing something you may not need at all.
But why do all this tedious and unnecessary work when it’s all right here?
Here’s the real deal!
Below are the steps on how to be a home health aide – and the rest of this website has other important components as well such as practice home health aide test, how to make more money as a home health aide, etc.
7 Steps For The Best Home Health Aide Training
|HHA Training 101|
|HHA Training Prerequisites|
|Choosing an HHA Training Program|
|The Best HHA Program For YOU|
|Online Home Health Aide Training|
|What You Will Learn @ HHA Training|
|The HHA Competency Test|
Now you need to be trained as a home health aide!
Why? Because why would any family member of health agency hire you if you do not knew how to change a bandage, make a bed or take vital signs of a client (the person you’ll be helping)?
Once you’ve completed your training then you can take the competency test to become certified. You will be on your way to that fantastic career!
HHA Training 101
You do not want to be overwhelmed as you train so you should know what to expect – that way you will not be disappointed either.
The goal of any training is so that you can learn something and the best way to prove your knowledge is by showing others you have learned what was taught – this training is no different.
Home health aide classes will prepare you to pass a home health aide competency test (mandated by the state in which you will be working). Being certified will be proof to others that you have the skills and knowledge to work in a real client setting.
HHA Training Prerequisites
There really are not that many requirements before you can start.
Just the basics though each school / training program may be different.
You’ll need to:
- pass a background check
- test for tuberculosis (also known simply as “TB”)
- have a high school diploma (not always)
And, all of the training material will be in English so your training school will most likely require you to speak/read/write in English.[See How I Overcame My Fears and Became A Home Health Aide.]
If you are looking for experience before you even decide to be a HHA or are looking for ways to enhance you skill set you may want to:
- volunteer on weekends or after school working in nursing homes, hospitals, etc.
- deliver meals on wheels in your community
- work at your local senior center helping out
Choosing a Training Program
Finding HHA Training
You can receive training from:
- home health care agencies
- community colleges
- vocational/technical schools
- home health aide online classes
A typical training program may take 4 (4) weeks or less to complete. The program will include lectures by those in the field, quizzes and tests, and some hands on experience at a health care facility such as a nursing home or hospital.
Timing is [Almost] Everything
How long it takes you to complete the training depends on many things.
There are federal (the whole United States) rules and there are state rules.
The Federal minimal requirements are also federal laws:
- training programs must contain at least 75 total hours of instruction
- there must be a minimum of 15 hours of training in a clinical setting
Many states have their own additional requirements.
Most of the time the total hours of instruction/clinical will seldom be above the federal guidelines.
The home health aide state requirements are really less of a concern for you as the state in which you train will certainly be aware of the state requirements and will train you accordingly. But it’s good for you to know what to expect anyway.
Some training programs allow just sixty (60) days (from the time you enter the program) to complete the training course. New York is one state that has such a requirement. So make sure you have the time to complete all the training!
In addition to time constraint many states dictate how training is broken out.
So for example:
1.) basic home care – 40 hours (classroom)
2.) health related curriculum- 35 hours (classroom plus supervised practical training).
Keep in mind that without additional education or training your chances for advancement for a home health aide are limited.
May sound foolish now but you may want to think about a degree program in nursing to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).
The Best HHA Program For YOU
As you look for training you must keep the following in mind:
Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these.
Home Health Aid Training Accreditation
This is not your accreditation but rather that of the company or school that will be training you.
In the case of an agency or healthcare company, accreditation is a process of review to demonstrate their ability to meet predetermined industry standards. It states that the organization is a credible and reputable organization. Maintaining accreditation ensures they comply to high standards of quality. Very simple.
Ask if they are accredited… if they are then they will proudly tell you and may point you in the direction of proof. If they have not been accredited you may want to look elsewhere – chances are the place across town is and you will better served.
Besides, employers will look to see if you had your home health training from an accredited organization – it certainly makes you more employable.
Here’s a great FREE search tool to finding HHA classes near you!
Most schools and independent educators are accredited but make sure anyway.
Cost of Training
How much you can expect to pay for training depends on many factors such as:
- Location – New York may be more than Tennessee, for example
- Agency – if you will be trained by an agency it may cost you nothing or simply the cost of material
- College – the most expensive; could be upwards of $3,000
- Multiple Certificates – perhaps you want to earn your certified nursing assistant (CNA) certificate along with your HHA
Cost of Agency Training
Generally speaking, if you work for an agency they will most likely provide you with the training and skill set to be a certified home health aide.
Most agencies will make you pay to take the HHA competency exam in order to be certified and that may be around $50 – $80. Chances are this is non-fundable meaning if you do not pass the exam you will need to pay again to take the exam.
If you are a SNAP participant, also known as food stamps, then you can get free SNAP training in your state – it’s the law!
Specialized HHA Training
The next most cost effective training is from a company that specializes in medical training and has a good track record. (Sometimes these schools are referred to as Independent Educators.) Of course you’ll check your home health aide state requirements but a typical 75 hour course may cost anywhere from $400 – $1,000. You’ll be using textbooks, interactive videos, instructor demonstrations and clinical workshops.
Some programs offer course of study for as low as $100; stay clear of these unless you know of others you trust have gone through, passed the exam and are gainfully employed. If the cost is significantly lower than all others then it may be suspect.
Look for a program that has instructors with nursing degrees, you should not settle for anything less. You want to be taught by experienced people in the medical field with years of experience.[Most training programs require that you wear nurse/medical scrubs; they’ll let you know how to purchase though many times you can get your uniforms and scrubs cheaper elsewhere. Make sure you shop around.
Whether you’re trained by a health care agency or not – total training time for a typical 75 hour “semester” should take a couple of weeks. But look at the fine print and make sure there are make-up sessions or no penalty for going beyond a particular period. You do not want any surprises so ask upfront.
You’ll want to take advantage of free (yes FREE) training. Not a joke or gimmick.
You may be able to get free training from your local home health aide agency. The health care industry can’t train people fast enough to be a home health aide. Many home care agencies offer free training to help you get started.
They may ask for something in return such as a commitment from you that you work with their firm for a period of time. Typically they’ll ask you to honor a year working for them.
So the worst case is you actually get a job at the end of your training!
Contact several agencies in your area and start asking questions – do they offer free training and what are the requirements.
Online Home Health Aide Training
How easy is it to get your home health aide certificate online?
If you cannot get to a training site or are the type of person who excels online you may want to think about online training.
Some of the advantages:
- Proceed at your own pace on your schedule
- Academic support by email or online
- Courses are electronic eBook
- No travel or commuting expenses
What You Will Learn @ Training
Not Your Typical Day
You may have butterflies that first day but rest assure all your classmates are after one thing: getting the required training in order to pass the competency test in order to start their career. Period.
You will not run into the class bully in scrubs or the cheerleader seeking to be voted “Ms. Popular” of the senior class of 2018. You’re all in the same boat with the same goals!
Your typical day in class will focus on topics like personal care services, nutrition and patient care chores and tasks.
Your teacher (many times a registered nurse) will have lessons, hands-on experience, videos, whiteboards presentation, guest lectures, and workbook reading.
Unless you’re hired directly by the family of a client or simply work for yourself you will need to be certified.
The reason is that if your employer (the health care agency) accepts Medicaid and/or Medicare the law says that they can only hire certified aides – very simply.
Your health care courses will teach you:
- basic concepts of healthcare
- life support
- terminology common in the medical field
- first aid and CPR
- personal care
- cleaning and care of homes
As you get more interested in medicine and want to learn more about human anatomy there are very effective and painless ways to learn and online/from home!
The HHA Competency Test
Once training is completed, you will be required to complete a HHA competency test to ensure you can properly perform tasks as required for their patients. Without additional or advanced training, advancement within the field is very limited.
Most likely you will be working for a home health care agency; either that or you are self-employed.
Most agencies accept Medicare and Medicaid – this is how they get paid for the services they provide their clients. The only way this affects you is that these agencies are required by the federal government to train home health aides according to government standards.
Don’t be concerned – once you have the training, passing the competency evaluation should not be difficult at all. The competency test will cover a wide area of disciplines within home health care.
In some states, you may be required to be a certified nursing assistant (CNA) before you’re a home health aide (HHA).
Here’s What To Expect On the Day of the HHA Exam
The day of the exam:
- arrive at the test site between twenty and thirty (20-30) minutes before the exam
- bring a photo ID and a backup just in case
- no cell phones are allowed during testing (and there may be no place for them to hold for you)
- no briefcases, large bags, study materials, extra books
- you will not be allowed to take anything out of the site such as papers or notes
- no eating or drinking: though you may get a break
This varies greatly by state but this is pretty typical: the results of the test will be sent to the department of health of the state in which you took the test. They will most likely mail you the results.
You will be certified only after you meet all requirements including passing all components of the test. If you fail either exam component, you must reapply to retake the component that you failed.