Are you thinking about becoming a home health aide?
If so, now is the time to do it. The job outlook for home health aides is expected to grow by 36 percent through 2028, which is much faster than the national average.
But, if you’re thinking about becoming a home health aide, where do you start?
Check out this guide to learn the top tips for becoming a home health aide.
What is a Home Health Aide?
First things first, what exactly is a home health aide?
As a home health aide, you’ll administer healthcare and support to elderly people, ill people, or people with disabilities. Typically, care is administered in a patient’s home. Home health aides either work directly for families or for an agency.
In this role, you may perform a combination of the following tasks:
- Light housekeeping, such as laundry, dishes, and cooking
- Monitoring and recording patient information
- Assisting with medical tasks such as checking vital signs and administering medication
- Assisting with personal care like getting dressed, grooming, and bathing
- Accompany patients on errands and doctors’ visits
- Provide emotional and social support to patients
Some home health aides work full-time, while others work part-time. Some schedules will require you to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Additionally, overnight and live-in shifts are possible. As of May 2018, the median wage of home health aides was $24,200.
Tips for Becoming a Home Health Aide
Now that you know a bit about what a home health aide does, let’s talk about the top tips for becoming a home health aide.
Get the Right Education
First things first, you need to get the right education to become a home health aide. Usually, this just means a high school diploma or GED. You do not need a bachelor’s degree to work as a home health aide, however, it could help you advance in your career.
Once you have the right education, you need to undergo the appropriate training. If you work for a company or organization that receives funds from Medicaid or Medicare, then you must complete a state-approved training program and evaluation.
Typically, these training programs are provided through vocational schools or community colleges. The exact type of training program varies by state, but you’ll need to undergo 75 hours of training and 16 hours of supervised work. Then, you’ll need to pass an evaluation or state certification.
Those who work for private companies are not bound by these laws, and in this position, you’ll likely receive on the job training. During your training, you’ll learn:
- Interpersonal and communication skills
- Laws regarding the rights of healthcare facilities and residents
- Basic healthcare practices
- Government codes
- Basic nursing care
- Infection control
- Emergency protocol
- Emotional response techniques
- Basic nutrition
- Range of motion and positioning
- Mobility techniques
- Personal hygiene and grooming
License and Certification
After you’ve completed the appropriate training, you’ll need to receive your HHA license and certification.
Your licensure will be complete once your training is complete. Certification, however, is usually optional in most states. Some states license, register, and certify their home health aides. Before applying for a job, you’ll want to check with your state’s laws. Here are two certification options:
- CNA Certification: As a CNA, you’ll learn to provide high-quality, safe patient care. To become a CNA, you’ll need to sign up for a certification program through your vocational school, high school, or community college
- Licensed Vocational Nurse: As an LPN, you’ll learn to collect samples, take vital signs, administer medication, and make patients comfortable. After becoming a CNA, this is the next certification step. You can enter an LPN program through your community college, and completing it usually takes 7 to 24 months
Becoming a successful home health aide is about more than just getting the right licenses and certifications. To become successful, you’ll need the right skillset. Here are the top skills you’ll need:
As a home health aide, you’ll be working with those who are ill, elderly, and otherwise in need of help. One of the most important things you can offer your patients is compassion.
Your calm and upbeat attitude in this role will help your patients stay positive.
As a home health aide, you’ll need to have superior verbal communication skills. You’ll need to communicate clearly and effectively to stay safe when you’re bathing, lifting, or physically helping your patients.
You may also need to communicate with your patients’ family members and your supervisors.
Even if you work a set schedule, you must always be prepared for change in this role. You never know when a patient is going to be sick, moody, or stressed out. Your flexibility will help patients stay comfortable.
Physical Strength and Stamina
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll be expected to lift, turn, and physically support patients in this role. Because of this, you need to make sure you have the right physical strength and stamina for the job.
On any given day, you’ll likely be given a list of tasks to complete, whether that’s administering medication to the patient, running errands with them, or organizing their home.
Strong time management skills are necessary to make sure you complete all of your assigned tasks before your shift is up.
Are You Ready to Become a Home Health Aide?
Now that you know a bit about what it takes to become a home health aide, it’s time to get yourself qualified and then start applying for jobs. Because of the retiring baby boomer population, more and more jobs are opening up in this field each day.
So, it shouldn’t take long before you’re gainfully employed.
If you liked this post, be sure to check back in with our blog for more career-related tips and tricks.