HHA vs CNA: 15 Key Differences in 2024
It gets asked a lot, yet continues to remain one of the top questions of those considering a career in the healthcare industry:
When it comes to home aide services for older adults, there is a plethora of options. Home Health Aides (HHA) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) can both assist in the daily lives of their clients but differ in the type of training, credentials, and care they provide. The difference between an HHA vs CNA is in their duties. A CNA can perform a variety of medical tasks.
What’s the difference between a HHA and CNA?
The reason for the question is that while Home Health Aides (HHAs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play very similar roles in patients’ lives, there are many more differences than folks think.
Learn more about the differences between CNA’s and HHA’s; and if your state allows you to administer medications to clients.
The Difference Between a Home Health Aide and a Certified Nursing Assistant
You may be looking for a new career in the medical/healthcare industry and considered being a nurse. Then, you realize that obtaining a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification can be a long and very expensive process.
If you are looking to start quickly and with very little time and money invested, you should consider becoming a Home Health Aide or a Certified Nursing Assistant – or BOTH!
Knowing the contrasts between these two positions will help you now and as you head down the path of your training and entry into the workforce. Some of the lines between the two fields can be blurry and confusing as you look further at individual state requirements for HHA’s and CNA’s.
See also becoming a HHA for a family member.
What is a Home Health Aide?
A home health aide (HHA) typically works in the homes of a patients. The patient may be chronically ill, elderly and in need of supervision, or they may be an otherwise healthy individual recovering from an illness or surgery.
He/she can be responsible for basic healthcare tasks that can include checking vital signs, helping with medications, or helping patients use wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids.
Their job is to help the patient remain at home where they are most comfortable. This often involves helping them with tasks of everyday living that may not be medical in nature. These tasks include bathing, help with laundry, transportation, prepare meals, etc.
What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?
A certified nursing assistant (CNA) works in a wide variety of environments that can include assisted living centers, nursing homes, and hospitals. They perform many of the same duties as the HHA, including assistance with medical devices, helping with medications, bathing and dressing patients, checking vital signs, and reporting any changes in the patient to the medical team.
They may also work with patients who have dementia, who need respite care, or who are in hospice care. CNA’s, unlike HHAs, usually care for a group of people instead of individuals.
What About Training?
These two roles do require unique training. For example, a CNA must go through a formal training program and pass a state exam, while HHAs can be trained on the job by RN’s. Further, passing a test to demonstrate proficiency may not even be required.
The graphics below go into more detail about the differentiation between a HHA and CNA. It’s important to know the details of each as you do not want to put down the money for HHA training only to learn that perhaps being a CNA is a wiser choice.
HHA: agencies for home care provide services. CNAs work at client homes, retirement homes, hospitals, rehab centers, hospice care centers, assisted living facilities, adult daycare centers, and more.
Where do CNA’s work?
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are some of the most common venues for nursing aides. Nursing aides aren’t as likely to work in healthcare facilities, but it does occasionally happen.
Certified nurse assistants have the option of working full time or part time. Because the majority of facilities require those that are willing to work full-time hours, nurse aides typically work 40 or more hours per week, including weekend, holiday, and overtime hours.
Nurse aides’ shifts usually last 8 to 10 hours. They may take advantage of various breaks according to each person’s employer’s schedule. Weekends and holidays usually follow the rotation schedule.
Confused About HHA Tasks?
There are several training programs necessary to become an HHA, including an educational program that includes classroom time and on-the-job training. Various assessments also are required, including an test administered by a registered nurse. These tests measure your level of competence and identify in case you are capable of carrying out the duties for a HHA.
Every CNA needs to have a state-issued license to provide care. The specifics vary by state, but most states require training and completion of supervised care. Training typically covers standard responsibilities and the fundamentals of nursing. Some CNAs may also have classes on specialized skills such as dementia care that they may need to develop for their elderly patients.
Training to be a HHA or CNA?
CNA: On average, you can expect to pay about $1,400 in order to become a CNA certified. The cost could vary depending upon the college you go to and the course. There are now numerous CNA training programs available online. The cost of an online CNA program can vary, depending on the institution or course, but the average cost of an online CNA program typically ranges from $700 up to $1,500.
HHA: The expenses of a home health aide program vary based on the school, course, whether it is online, and the state where the school is located. The median cost of an HHA certification is between $100 and $1,000. The courses with clinical hours and online courses are less expensive. You owe it to yourself to consider free HHA training classes near you for the best value; do not overpay for HHA training when it may be offered for free!
CNA: Once students have successfully completed their training as nursing assistants and submitted the correct paperwork, they will have to sit for the main portion of the state’s CNA certification examination. This portion of the exam consists of two parts the written and oral portion (held in a group setting) and the clinical study portion (held one-on-one).
HHA: Home Health Aides may not need a certification to carry out their duties. Certified Nursing Assistants must have a certification and a license for performing their duties, and some states require specific ones.
CNA: A CNA certification program typically lasts 2 years. The program must be renewed every year by paying the renewal fee and ongoing employment requirements or hours to complete the job (these may vary by state).
CNA: The majority of certified nursing assistant programs require candidates to have a high school diploma or a GED equivalent and be able to provide their school transcript. Some schools and programs will also require candidates to pass an examination and a criminal background test.
HHA: No, but some agencies do insist on a high school diploma for their employees.
CNA: To become a certified nursing assistant in the majority of states, you must be at least 18 years old. CNA classes usually do not have a minimum educational prerequisite, but the majority of states do require a high school diploma or a GED to begin the course.
HHA: While it is not improbable you can be a home health aide as young as 16 in some states, candidates to be a HHA should be at least 18 years old considering the requirements of a HHA.
HHA: There is no conventional medical training for HHA qualifications, so there may be little upward mobility. It’s not impossible to utilize HHA expertise to ascend into an administrative role, but there are a great deal of studies and classes involved. CNA: Since CNAs spend a lot of time in medical settings, like hospitals, they’re usually esteemed as professionals hierarchically.
Summary of HHA vs CNA
HHAs and CNAs more often than not provide similar assistance for patients and customers, but which option is the best will depend on your needs. Both aid with creating day-to-day living simpler. However, if you want extra assistance with recovering from illness or injury, a CNA’s help is likely to work best.
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