How to Become a Home Health Aide
Home health aides are compassionate, trained professionals who play a critical role in healthcare and provide a range of essential services to assist patients unable to perform important tasks themselves. Below is everything you need to know about home health training and how to become a home health aide in New York, from the duties and responsibilities, the educational requirements, and the average salary to the job outlook, career opportunities, and benefits.
Home Health Training in New York: How to Become a Home Health Aide
The Role and Job Description of Home Health Aides
Home health aides are trained to provide basic care and play a vital role in assisting patients of all ages that are unwell or injured by taking care of their routine healthcare needs. Home health aides work in various settings, including client homes, nursing homes, group homes, assisted living facilities, and day services programs.
Home health aides take care of the elderly and individuals with physical injuries, rehabilitation needs, and developmental disabilities under the supervision of a licensed healthcare practitioner.
Job Duties and Responsibilities
Home health aides’ duties and responsibilities vary based on their patients’ needs. Aids help and assist in physical care, daily personal tasks, and daily activities.
Routine Tasks and Activities
An aide will assist clients in personal hygiene, patient bathing, prescribed medication reminders, administering medication, preparing meals, basic nutrition, and light housekeeping duties. Duties also include the scheduling of routine doctor’s appointments and arranging transportation.
A home health aide’s duties include checking vital signs by monitoring a patient’s condition. Home health aides will take regular blood pressure readings, check their patient’s pulse, temperature, and respiration and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.
Communication, Interaction, and Support
Part of the responsibilities is to interact socially and provide basic emotional or psychological support to people who are often isolated. Home health aides also offer the patient’s family members and friends peace of mind.
Obtaining Home Health Aide Certification
If you want to make a professional career out of being a home health aide and work for home health agencies and hospice agencies, certification will prove that you can provide quality care to patients. You will have to enroll in a New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) or New York State Department of Education (NYSED) approved training program to become a certified aide by earning a Home Health Aide (HHA) certification.
Basic Requirements for Home Health Aides
Home health aides provide personal care and basic health-related services to patients, including those with chronic illnesses who cannot care for themselves. Aides need a set of essential skills that are crucial to perform demanding tasks competently. Before entering an approved training program to become a certified aide, you must meet the basic requirements.
The educational requirements to become a certified home health aide is minimal, and you can work as soon as you complete the training. To qualify for state certification, you must have a high school diploma or GED and undergo a screening and evaluation process that includes a competency test or equivalent exam.
You need prior training or relevant experience and must complete a home health aide training program and a certification exam to become a certified home health aide in New York.
Tests and Evaluations
You’ll be assessed to ensure you meet the requirements to provide the home health aide services established by the NYSDOH and the NYSED. You will be evaluated and tested to determine if you have empathy and compassion for the sick and elderly and if you communicate clearly and interact professionally.
You will be tested to determine if you can deal effectively with the inherent demands of a home health aide’s responsibilities before you start your home health aide schooling.
Previous Experience and Training
In some instances, if you are a nursing student, an out-of-state home health aide, a veteran with medic or medical technician training, or a certified nursing assistant with recent hospital experience, you can bypass the program and only complete the evaluation.
Approved and Certified Programs
Your home health aide training and evaluations must be conducted by one of the NYSDOH or NYSDOE-approved and certified vocational schools, community colleges, or employers that will also assess your previous training and experience to determine what training you require to get certified. The NYSDOH and NYSDOE have a list of institutions offering approved home health aide programs on their websites.
Apply for Home Health Aide Training Programs
The NYSDOH and the NYSDOE-approved programs provide basic and core training and competency evaluation programs. The programs include a minimum of 40-hour Personal Care Aide (PCA) Training Program and a minimum of 75-hour Home Health Aide (HHA) Training Program.
The Home Health Aide (HHA) Training Program will include 59 hours of classroom training and 16 hours of supervised practical training under the watchful eye of a licensed healthcare provider. The 75-hour Home Health Aide Training Program does not include your testing and competency evaluation.
The HHA program will teach you medical terminology, basic anatomy, physiology, nutrition, safety practices, and how to take vital signs. You will also learn special procedures to care for patients with different disorders and diseases and how to use devices such as wheelchairs and walkers.
Once you’ve successfully completed the program within the required timeframes and the written exam and skills evaluation to show your competency, you must pass a drug screen and a background check for identity and employment authorization if you want to work in a home care setting.
You will receive home health aide certification from the approved institution through the New York State Home Care Worker Registry (HCWR), making you a fully-fledged and certified home health aide.
Employment and Job Outlook
An evaluation performed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that job availability and employment for home health aides will grow by 25 percent between 2021 and 2031 due to the aging of the population and the pressure on healthcare systems.
Considering that the average growth rate is eight percent across all other occupations, a 25 percent increase in jobs for aids is substantial and makes a huge difference in terms of job outlook. When you’ve received your certification, apply your knowledge and skills to gain experience. There’s a lot of work out there.
The demand for certified, competent, and trustworthy home health aids is at an all-time high. Home health aides always have work in New York City, including Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn but also across New York State. Once you’ve completed your training, are certified, and passed the required pre-employment screenings, you will find a home health aide position at a reputable home health agency.
Being a home health aide is a fulfilling career but could also lead to other jobs in the medical field. You can continue your formal training with additional certification and education and advance your career by becoming a certified nursing assistant and then a licensed practical nurse.
Home Health Aide Salary
The salary you can expect varies depending on the company you work for and your qualifications and experience. Whether you work full-time for 40 hours a week or decide to take part-time positions at nursing homes or hospice agencies, the starting home health aide salary is highly competitive. Many new home health aides earn an average starting wage of $17 per hour.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for certified home health aides was $29,430 in May 2021, with the highest average wages shooting up to $33,915 and the top earners pocketing $42,668. In addition to your wages, you will receive paid sick leave and proportional paid time off per each payroll invoice that you can use to take a well-deserved break.
The Benefits of Becoming a Home Health Aide
Being a home health aide is a rewarding career that offers career growth, a deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, and the opportunity to perform routine healthcare and everyday tasks that are helpful and meaningful. Home health aides work flexible hours that allow you to create a schedule that offers a better work-life balance, receive a generous wage and overtime pay, and opt for live-in positions.
You will genuinely make a difference in the lives of the people you care for by delivering health care in your patients’ homes, making them comfortable, and enhancing their quality of life. Personal care aides provide social interaction and companionship, build genuine relationships with their patients and feel a sense of accomplishment knowing they provided an essential service to those in need.
Obtain the knowledge and skills to become an effective home aide worker, make a life-changing difference in the lives of the people you care for, and reap the many benefits of a truly rewarding occupation. If you want to help others, call Parent Care at 718-486-7100 today and take the first step in building your career as an exceptional home health aide.