Home health aides care for sick, disabled or otherwise impaired people in residential facilities or in private homes. Home health aides typically work under the supervision of a nurse, but the aides often perform basic medical procedures such as checking blood pressure, breathing and heart rates. They dress wounds, assist with exercises and administer medications. These activities require some knowledge of medical instruments and procedures. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) offers certification to show competence in these areas.
Get a job as a home health aide if you can. Certification is voluntary, and working in the field prepares you for the training and testing involved in certification by giving you hands-on experience. Check local help wanted ads, call home health care facilities and organizations in your area and check the NAHC bulletins for job openings. When starting out, you might feel more comfortable working in a facility rather than a private home because you would have more supervision and opportunities to ask questions about the job and its requirements. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, aides in private homes often work alone.
Ask if your employer offers formal training. Some home health aide agencies provide classes for employees. These may be voluntary or mandatory. If your employer requires a program, ask if it leads to NAHC certification.
Enroll in a training program that satisfies the requirements of the NAHC if your employer doesn't offer one or if you don't have a home health aide job. Community colleges, junior colleges and universities, both traditional and online, offer home health aide programs. The NAHC requires 75 hours of instruction in health care concepts and medication issues.
Demonstrate your skills for the certification requirements. This component may be part of your educational program, or you may need to contact the NAHC to find an evaluator. Home health aides need to demonstrate good communications skills, the ability to take temperatures and pulse rates, knowledge about proper hygiene and fluid intake, understanding of emergencies and emergency procedures, proper documentation and application of privacy laws.
Pass the written examination that covers home health aide concepts.