The Home Health Aide (HHA) Guide
Home health aides provide an important service to the elderly, people with chronic illness, and individuals with disabilities. The work of a home health aide is geared primarily at helping people stay in their own home rather than living in an assisted living or long-term care facility. At FreedomCare, we take all the benefits of home care to another level by allowing patients to choose and manage their own caregivers whenever possible. Though many of our clients choose family members or close friends as caregivers through the CDPAP program, we also hire exceptionally dedicated independent home health aides who are not related to our clients. These home health aides fill in the gaps and provide service when friends or loved ones are not available to patients. Because we focus so heavily on meeting the relational and emotional needs of our patients, the work environment at FreedomCare is exceptionally supportive. As a result, our home health aides are the happiest caregivers in the state!
Becoming a home health aide takes effort. To achieve certification, prospective aides must go through a 75-hour training program that includes both an academic component along with hands-on clinical studies. FreedomCare hires only the best home health aides in New York state to fill in whenever patients hire a family member, friend, neighbor, or another designated representative who needs time off. Independent home health aides are often needed to fill in the service gaps or to address the needs of patients who simply prefer to hire one of our staff rather than a relative or friend. After certification, FreedomCare home health aides receive training on-the-job that’s provided by a nurse or another skilled aide. Friends or loved ones as well as independent home health workers then receive compensation through the FreedomCare app.
We offer a number of important benefits to our employees that our competitors don’t provide. For example, we pay employees weekly on Fridays through a convenient mobile app that makes it unnecessary for employees to hand in a timesheet in person. We offer highly competitive wages and opportunities for advancement and even higher pay rates for home health aides who have pursued higher levels of training and education. Health and dental insurance are available to our employees, who work as an integral part of a team and we offer 401(k) matching contribution plans and a variety of other benefits.
Home health aides provide basic care and health services to their clients and they work under the supervision of a medical professional such as a registered nurse. They differ from personal aides in that they can manage certain skilled tasks that contribute directly to the patient’s health and wellbeing. Home health workers must complete on-the-job training to qualify to perform these services such as offering medication reminders, providing companionship, assisting with personal care and transfers, and doing transportation and meal preparation. The work of a home health aide is extremely rewarding in the collaborative environment that we provide at FreedomCare. Our goal is always to create a partnership through which both patients and home health aides can thrive.
What does a home health aide do?
Home health aides provide a variety of different services that make it possible for elderly, disabled, or chronically ill patients to continue to live their lives in their own home rather than going to an assisted living or a long-term care facility. A typical work day for a home health aide could include any or all of the following duties:
Companionship is an essential element in caregiving. Patients who are homebound get lonely at times, so having a home health aide there enhances their quality of life. Chatting with patients and just being physically present in the home with them has a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of patients.
Many of our patients need help moving around inside of their home. Transferring patients from sitting to standing, from the bed to a chair, or from a wheelchair to a bath chair is an important part of the job. As the home health aide, you help patients stay mobile within their home environment while helping them stay safe from potential falls or other injuries at the same time.
Home health aides help patients get around town using a car or public transportation. By providing transportation, a home health aide helps patients run errands, go to doctor’s appointments, and go shopping. Having someone there to assist with outings helps otherwise homebound patients enjoy leaving the house to do necessary tasks.
● LIGHT HOUSEKEEPING
As a home health aide, you’ll be asked to help patients tidy up their home spaces by doing the dishes, laundry, or just straightening things up a bit. Heavy-duty cleaning isn’t necessary, but home health aides should expect to make sure the patient’s home environment is clutter-free, safe, and reasonably clean.
● PERSONAL CARE
Many patients require help with bathing, grooming, and showering as well as toileting. Home health aides also assist with dressing and undressing as well as maintaining proper clothing during different seasons. If a patient needs assistance with day-to-day self-care, home health aides should be prepared to help.
● MEAL PREP
Home health aides are often asked to prepare simple, but healthy, nutritious meals for patients. In some cases, if the patient is unable to feed him or herself, aides may also be required to feed the patient. Cooking meals assures that patients are eating healthy foods that they enjoy.
● MEDICATION REMINDERS
It can be hard for patients to remember to take their medications, especially if there are a lot of medications that they’re taking. Home health aides remind patients about when to take their medications and they observe and record when patients have taken their meds. If a patient falls ill suddenly, these records can provide valuable information to help the patient get better.
● CREATE A SAFE HOME ENVIRONMENT
Home health aides must keep the patient’s house free from obstructions and manage safety issues that could lead to injuries. Cleaning, tidying up, along with other activities that generally contribute to a sense of well-being and safety is also an ongoing focus for our caregivers.
Home health aides need certain skills to perform their jobs properly. They must go through a 75 hour training program to learn the basic skills necessary to perform their job duties. And while aides also receive hands-on training in addition to their education, it’s essential that they also have other “soft skills” that make it possible for them to be truly spectacular at their work:
● Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills include the ability to listen, communicate, and the ability to connect with patients. Listening is not just about hearing a patient’s words but also striving to really understand what the patient is trying to say without words. Communication means that the home health aide makes an effort to be understood by speaking and behaving in a way the patient can understand. The ideal home health aide has the ability to connect with patients and gain rapport to ensure that the patient feels comfortable and safe.
● Time Management Skills
Home health aides often must complete a long list of different tasks during their shift. The ability to prioritize tasks and come up with a logical sequence for completing them is important because the time must be managed properly. For example, it may be necessary to make lunch for the patient as well as make sure the patient makes it to a doctor’s appointment on time. Setting a schedule to accomplish everything that’s necessary is a common task for our caregivers.
● Detail Oriented
Because home health aides are often given a list of different tasks to manage during the course of their shift, they must be able to prioritize these tasks into an logical order of progression and then be attentive to all of the minor details essential to each one. Home health aides are asked to monitor medications, doctor’s appointments, and the patient’s vital signs, for example. Each of these tasks require a certain level of attention to detail. The home health aide, for example, often must record vital signs and write down the time of day when the patient takes his or her meds.
● Physical Stamina
Often home health aides are required to transfer clients from a chair to the bed which requires lifting. So aides must know how to lift properly so as to avoid injuring themselves or the patient. The caregiver must be physically strong to perform transfers as well as other required physical tasks such as doing the laundry or bathing the patient during the shift.
How do you become a certified home health aide?
The process of becoming certified as a home health aide who is qualified to work for FreedomCare is relatively straightforward. Certification is granted after the prospective home health aide completes a state-sanctioned training program. These training programs are available throughout the state at scheduled intervals. Once the prospective aide completes the educational material, a nurse will certify that the requirements have been met. Once the student has been certified in this way, they can begin looking for work.
In the state of New York, prospective home health aides must become certified by following the minimum federal education requirements. Training programs offer at least 75 hours of education including 16 hours of clinical, hands-on training. Training programs include 40 hours of the Home Care Curriculum (HCC), and 35 hours of training on health-related tasks. Be sure to find a home health care program that includes the requisite 75 hours with the correct proportion of HCC hours followed by clinical experience. At FreedomCare, we require that all of our home health aides complete a certification program that has been approved by the state of New York.
After the home health aide gets certified, 12 continuing education hours are required every twelve months for the aide to stay current. Continuing education hours are not only an essential part of maintaining the home health aide’s license, but also an opportunity to grow as a caregiver and at FreedomCare, we reward caregivers for making the extra effort to excel at their job.
Dedicated home health aides who want to set themselves apart from the pack, can differentiate themselves by taking additional classes on topics such as human anatomy, hospice, or CPR. In December, 2016, a new category was created for “advanced home health aides”. This designation is for aides who are able to administer pre-filled, routinely administered medications that are easy to give such as insulin injections or eye drops. Advanced home health aides have received more training than regular home health aides and they are also paid a different pay rate as well.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) can work as a home health aide if they take just one extra day of training. Training agencies that have been approved by the Department of Health in the state of New York can’t charge for home health aide training which means that you can get the training you need for free! But it’s important to realize that home health aide training programs must be approved by either the New York State Education Department (SED) or the New York Department of Health (DOH).
In order to enroll in a home health aide training program, you must be at least 18 years of age and able to read and write at an 8th grade level so you can follow written instructions and keep simple records. Good candidates for enrollment are people who are emotionally and mentally mature with a stable personality. You should be in good health without any addictions to a controlled substance.
The supervised practical training segment of the curriculum takes place in the patient’s home, a different health care setting, or in a laboratory. During this part of the training, the prospective home health aide must perform tasks to demonstrate their knowledge of the material. Home health aide certification is awarded after the skills have been completed successfully. Once the training program is complete, there is no competency test to take.
How long does it take to become a home health aide?
The time that it takes to become a home health aide depends on a number of factors. First, the prospective aide must find and then enroll in an appropriate training program approved either by the New York Department of Health or the New York State Education Department. Classes are offered by home care agencies or through colleges or vocational schools and the first step toward becoming a home health aide is to enroll in a program that fits with your schedule. Completion of the training program could take weeks or months depending on the program you enroll in. Training typically takes place over the course of up to ten weeks depending on the number of hours presented weekly. Training must include a minimum of 75 hours with 40 hours of home care curriculum and 35 hours of clinical hands-on training in laboratory, health care facility, or a patient’s home. Once the trainee has completed the program a nurse instructor or supervisor certifies the home health aide. At this time, the aide can apply for a job at a company like FreedomCare and begin work.
How much do HHA get paid?
At FreedomCare, we offer a highly competitive wage starting at $16.00 per hour and $24 per overtime hour. This rate of pay is in the top 10% in the nation and vastly outranks the competition. At FreedomCare, home health aides are assured a higher salary than what they’ll find anywhere else because we’re looking for the most dedicated and skilled home health aides in New York. Our competitive salary is one of the reasons why FreedomCare is so well-known for providing impeccable care throughout the state.
Home health aides who have a high level of training and experience are eligible for higher pay and we reimburse workers with time and a half for overtime and holidays. Childcare reimbursement is also available and home health aides who refer others to our company receive a bonus. Additionally, FreedomCare offers Health and Dental insurance as well as a 410(k) option with matching contributions.
FreedomCare vs other HHA Companies
FreedomCare offers a singularly supportive work environment to home health aides that allows employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Employees feel like they’re actually a part of a functional team as opposed to just being another cog in the wheel. Prospective home health aides who are looking for an opportunity to feel a sense of satisfaction in their work are welcome to apply.
In addition to our comparatively high pay rate that we offer home health aides, FreedomCare offers a number of additional advantages and a very respectable benefits package over other HHA companies. We provide guaranteed on-time payments via direct deposit. Home health aides receive payments weekly on Fridays without delay. We also provide all of our employees with access to an easy mobile app that eliminates the need for workers to drop off timesheets or wait for payment to arrive. With FreedomCare caregivers receive payments without hassle on a weekly basis and our per hour pay rate is higher than what home health aides receive anywhere else in the state.
Everyone on our caregiving team gets paid vacation days and sick days. Certified home health aides with more experience receive more vacation days and pay raises to motivate our workers to continue pursuing higher education and the acquisition of additional skills. We work hard to provide incentives to our valued aides that encourages them to always continue pursuing a higher standard. Referral bonuses are in place to encourage our valued employees to connect us with other high-quality home health aides who would be interested in joining our team.
We offer a competitive benefits package that includes both health and dental insurance and employees are invited to sign up for a 401(k) retirement account with matching contributions. Childcare reimbursement is available for caregivers with a young family to care for. These benefits along with time and half overtime and holiday pay set us apart from competitor home health care agencies. FreedomCare provides the ideal work environment for home health aides who are searching for great benefits, higher wages, retirement options, and a sense of satisfaction in their work.