If you are passionate about helping others, you can find rewarding work as a home health aide for a home care agency. While the process to become certified varies state-by-state, it typically does not require a formal education or a significant amount of training  to learn how to perform basic personal care and medical duties. Becoming a caregiver is a rewarding process, and below we outline how to complete requirements to work in the state of Pennsylvania as a home health aide. 

What Is a Home Health Aide?

A home health aide (HHA) is a type of medical assistant who offers support to elderly, disabled, and recovering individuals in a residential setting. HHAs may also work in group homes, day programs, adult day care organizations, or other care or rehabilitation facilities. Daily responsibilities may include grooming and bathing, mobility assistance, meal preparation, light housekeeping, and socializing. Medical-related duties can include dispensing medications, taking vital signs, monitoring symptoms, and accompanying patients to medical appointments. 

What Skills Are Necessary for Home Care Providers?

Home health aides must demonstrate a variety of inherent traits and learned skills to work with patients. HHAs typically work with elderly, ill, and disabled patients who can require a significant amount of care. Home caregiver jobs require individuals to exhibit calm, patience, initiative, and empathy towards their patients. Showcasing these skills will become easier with knowledge and hands-on experience that one gains through guided training and simulations. 

Other important skills can include:

  • Compassion
  • Communication skills
  • Observation skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Time management
  • Organizational skills
  • Composure 

How to Become a Home Health Aide in Pennsylvania

Education Requirements

For entry-level home care jobs, there are minimal education requirements. Many programs require at least a high school diploma or GED, although some do not. 

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Caregiver job requirements vary by state. Pennsylvania requires prospective home health aides to undergo formal training and a certification program as outlined by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Under federal law, HHAs in Pennsylvania must undergo classroom and supervised practical training in a practicum lab or similar setting under the direct or indirect supervision of a registered nurse. Interested individuals can look to community colleges, some nonprofits, private schools, nursing facilities, and even home healthcare agencies for required training. You can also get certified by the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC).

Classroom and supervised practical training must total at least 75 hours. Moreover, a minimum of 16 hours of classroom training must precede a minimum of 16 hours of supervised practical training as part of the 75 hours. 

Training will cover a variety of subjects, including but not limited to:

  • Communication skills: The ability to read, write, and verbally report clinical information to patients, representatives, caregivers, and other HHA staff
  • Observation: The ability to report and document patient status and care
  • Reading and recording temperature, pulse, and respiration
  • Basic infection prevention and control procedures
  • Maintenance of a clean, safe, and healthy environment 
  • Recognizing emergencies and knowledge of instituting emergency procedures
  • Offering companionship and respect to patients
  • Appropriate and safe techniques in performing personal hygiene and grooming tasks such as a bed bath, oral hygiene, toileting, and hair shampooing 
  • Mobility transfers 
  • Adequate nutrition and fluid intake 

HHA Certification & Continued Education 

After you finish mandatory training, you are eligible to take the home health aide certification exam to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. This may require performing a variety of mock tasks to pass a competency evaluation. If you pass the examination, you can then register for a state license. 

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In Pennsylvania, in order to maintain your license, you need to take 12 additional hours of class every year and replay for renewal. Individual employers may have additional requirements such as taking a CPR course or following specific Medicare or Medicaid federal licensing requirements. 

TruCare Homecare is a women-owned and family-operated business centered on providing compassionate in-home senior care in the greater Philadelphia area. Our home care agency offers adult day care in addition to home health care services such as meal preparation, grooming, mobility assistance, and transportation. Caregivers are dedicated to creating meaningful bonds with clients and their families, offering tailored care plans that best benefit individuals’ health care needs. Recognized as the Best of Home Care Provider and Best of Home Care Employee of 2019 and 2020, our reputation speaks for itself. For more information about our services, call our office at 610-878-2273 or visit our website.