11 Nov Free HHA Training Classes in Philly: Caregiver Guide
Did you know that some employers in the state of Pennsylvania will cover the cost of your Home Health Aide certification course? We give you a step by step guide through how to get the full cost of Home Health Aide training, including testing, free or reimbursed by some area Philadelphia employers. Plus, we share other avenues to get free HHA and caregiver training as well as certification courses available in the area and in Pennsylvania.
Home health aides, also known as HHAs, provide medical assistance and support to the elderly, people that are ill or have disabilities, and even children. Most often, this occurs in the patient’s home. HHAs may work for a home healthcare or home care agency. Some may work directly for a patient’s family.
To act in a work capacity as a home health aide, a formal training and certification program is required in the state of Pennsylvania. These vital direct care positions in the medical field can turn into a blossoming career in the medical field. In this article, we break down the avenues for students to get home health aide training for free upfront or after employer reimbursement.
We also discuss how much home health aides make per hour and in salary both locally and across the United States. Finally, we help answer common questions about HHAs. Examples include what they do, the work environment, educational requirements, and how home health aides differ from caregivers.
What does a home health aide do?
A home health aide may perform some or all of the following tasks:
- Monitor and record patient information
- Perform light housekeeping duties including meal prep and cooking, laundry, or dishes
- Assist with medical tasks including checking vital signs or medication administration
- Help with personal care tasks or activities of daily living; examples include bathing, grooming and getting dressed
- Accompany patient to medical appointments and other errands; manage patient schedule
- Provide social and emotional support to patient, including companionship and activity promotion
Where do home health aides work?
An HHA will work mainly in a patient’s home or in a residential setting. Usually, this is accomplished through an agency model, including home healthcare and home care agencies. However, home health aides are also found in other healthcare settings as well. As an example, you might find HHAs working in adult day care organizations, group homes, day programs, or other residential living or rehabilitative settings.
Many organizations will prioritize hiring certified home health aides over those without this license. In some cases, they come with higher pay. For example, organizations that hire personal care aides, direct support professionals, or resident aides will often prefer to hire HHAs.
In several Philadelphia area organizations, they add pay of at least 4 percent to certified home health aides over those that do not have the training. This is because of the varying levels of complexity of different individuals that the respective organizations work with. For example, a home health aide is better equipped to deal with individuals that have special needs or more intensive medical care requirements due to their background in healthcare training. Not only are HHAs more likely to have higher pay, but they are also more likely to get hired in the first place. This is especially true when the candidate has no experience in caregiving.
Why do I want to be an HHA?
Being an HHA is an excellent career choice and a stepping stone into the medical field.
Look at the facts below which make a career as an HHA a great one. The benefits of starting or continuing your career as a home health aide include:
- Unprecedented job growth. The growth in home health aide and direct care worker occupations is incredible. HHAs are one of the fastest growing jobs in all of America over the next ten years. Overall, the number of HHA job openings is estimated to grow more than SEVEN times faster than all occupations through 2028, according to the BLS.
- HHAs benefit from a strong starting salary with a minimal training and time investment. A home health aide course can be completed in just two weeks. Also, no experience is necessary to begin. HHA training is quick and inexpensive as well, or potentially even free as we discuss later on. The starting pay for an HHA compared to the education and training needed is quite favorable. This doesn’t even factor for the potential for huge salary increases as one gains more education and experience.
- Fast-track training courses. As we mentioned, CareBridge Academy’s program can get you HHA certified in as little as two weeks. They regularly offer classes to fit a variety of schedules, including online course options. Finally, they help get you into a paying job quickly. Support for job placement and connecting HHAs to area employers in a variety of medial settings is a major advantage.
- Break into the medical field. Home health aide caregiving is one of the fastest ways to start getting healthcare experience. In a healthcare career, you can find a ladder to a promising future. As part of the healthcare team, often working with nurses and therapists, HHAs often get to work and collaborate with various healthcare roles and specialties.
- A promising career path. Many direct care workers take their HHA experience and use it to give them a leg up for educational opportunities and other healthcare jobs. Some eventually become nurses, doctors, or physical therapists, among others. Plus, HHAs also work outside of the home setting too. Aides often work in residential habilitation, day programs, or adult and individual services among others. Some even can start in these roles right after attaining their HHA training.
What are the educational requirements to be a home health aide?
There is no requirement for candidates to have a high school diploma or GED in order to be hired into the role. Also, candidates don’t need a diploma in order to be accepted into an HHA course. That means that candidates can train to be home health aide certified while still in high school, for example.
Some employers may require their caregivers or home health aides to be at least 18 years old. Alternatively, they also may require a GED or high school diploma. However, these are unique to each organization and will vary.
What does an HHA certification look like?
The HHA certification or certificate of completion may vary based on the school or business offering the certificate. Here is one example of how a certificate of completion might look for graduating students.
How much does a home health aide course cost?
We will discuss how the HHA can get their training for free. This can be accomplished with up front program payment so the student pays nothing out of pocket. It also might include the student paying for the full cost of the program, but then getting the cost of the program reimbursed once they are hired in a home health aide role.
The regular cost of the course runs $595 at CareBridge Academy. This cost includes all associated expenses of the program; including tuition, textbooks, lab fees, and other training materials. Program graduates achieve a HHA certificate of completion that is inexpensive, quick, and highly flexible. It is not restricted to just one home healthcare agency or one healthcare setting.
Are there any additional requirements of an HHA for training or employment?
An HHA will need to meet several additional requirements in order to be accepted into a home health aide course or to get employed in the healthcare settings that they work in. In Pennsylvania, that means an HHA needs:
- Evidence that they’ve had a negative 2-Step Tuberculosis (TB) test. This is done by going to a medical facility and having a small amount of tuberculin units injected between the layers of skin. It’s accomplished at a wide variety of facilities as it is an extremely common and routine test, particularly for healthcare workers. Within 48-72 hours, the person will return for a skin evaluation. Their skin is then analyzed for an immune response. In the second step process, the individual will then return a total of 7 to 21 days after the initial test to get their skin read for an immune response. The tests must both be negative. Alternatively, a negative reading via chest x-ray within the previous 5 years is also acceptable for evidence of being negative of tuberculosis.
- Completed national background check, ePatch, and Childline. The background check is to make sure that the individual is free of prohibited offenses that are listed here. Conviction of an offense listed here would prevent someone from being able to work as a caregiver or home health aide in the medical field.
Some healthcare settings may have their own additional requirements or prerequisites for employment. These will vary based on the organization, but some may include any of the following:
- Previous caregiver experience
- A valid driver’s license, insurance, and/or care
- CPR/ First Aid certification
- A high school diploma/GED
Can The HHA Certification Course Be Done Online?
Yes, for the most part. For example, the majority of the course (59 out of 75 hours) are under classroom instruction. 16 hours of the course must be done under the supervision and instruction of the nurse, as per federal regulations. In the CareBridge Academy program, the classroom portion is done remotely via instructor led distance learning. The rest are done at CareBridge Academy’s Philadelphia school location. Therefore, in this program students only need to be present in person for two full days of hands-on HHA instruction.
Getting home health aide certification courses for free
There are several ways that a caregiver could get home health aide certification for free. We sum up three main ways that this can be accomplished.
- An employer agrees to reimburse the cost of the training when an HHA gets hired
- An employer offers the home health aide certification at the company. Please note, basic caregiver training is not the same as home health aide training which is more intensive.
- An employer pays for the cost of your certification if you bring a client to the organization. This could include family caregivers that provide loved ones caregiving support and are on Medicaid waiver or those on VA benefits. It could also include caregivers that are currently working with a client and want to bring their client to a new agency.
Employer agreed reimbursement
In this scenario, the caregiver will get hired by the home healthcare agency. The home healthcare agency will sign an agreement with the prospective HHA that says that if they complete the HHA course, they will reimburse them for the cost that the student paid for the course. This is similar to how Certified Nurse Aides and CNAs arrange for free training, as we discuss here.
For example, employers in this arrangement generally will pay for half the training cost after a set number of hours worked, and then pay the additional half after a secondary portion. The major difference between HHA and CNA reimbursement is that in the case of CNAs, there is a federal requirement that dictates how the reimbursement works. Employment at a long term care facility requires that reimbursement for CNAs must occur under regulations. That is not the case with HHAs. However, some employers offer this in varying formats because of the high demand for home health aides. We have a list of home healthcare agencies that we work with which can help offer this benefit, so contact us today!
Employer offered home health aide training
There are some employers around Philadelphia that offer their own HHA training certification. This is done at no cost to the student. Just like the agreement we mention above, this can vary significantly between organizations. However, it is only free under similar conditions discussed above.
- The employee must agree to work for the organization for a set number of hours or time for the program to be free of charge
- The employee may be responsible for the full cost of the program if they do not meet this requirement
- The employer can pursue the employee for the cost of the program if they do not meet the requirements as set out.
While there are stipulations, this may be a good option for some individuals. Interested caregivers will need to search for a variety of home healthcare agencies that offer this. The home care agency training offerings may be sporadic or infrequent, so the interested employee may have to ensure that the training fits their schedule.
Questions to ask for employer offered training
Finally, we recommend that the interested HHA verifies a few things with the employer offered the training. The interested employee could ask the following questions below directly:
- Does the home health aide meet the training requirements set out by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 484.80)?
- Some employers may not have ensured that they met all the requirements of the program for it to be called home health aide training.
- In particular, does it cover the 75 required hours of training, including 16 hours of hands-on clinical or lab practice under direct supervision?
- This is an important question for a few reasons. Some employers call their training home health aide training, but in reality it is just basic caregiver training. If it does not meet the requirements of being a home health aide, then the employee will not be able to do some tasks that a home health aide is able to do. More importantly, the home health aide certification will not be valid if they go to different healthcare settings.
- Does it cover all of the content requirements as listed in the same federal regulations?
- There are specific topics that a home health aide training course is supposed to address. If those topics are not addressed, or if the evaluation of the home health aide is not done as listed in the requirements, then the certificate of completion of the program may not be a valid one as recognized by federal regulations.
- Is the entirety of the training documented and will I be given a copy of my certification?
- For programs that meet the training requirements, it is important that students are given a copy of their certification. If they do not have valid documentation showing that they have completed their home health aide certification, then they will not be able to work as a home health aide in another healthcare setting.
Any of the above mentioned items could be major roadblocks for caregivers and direct care workers. If not followed properly, then they may not have a valid HHA certification and could have to take the course over again.
Overall, we don’t want to scare individuals from this path to HHA certification, we just want to ensure that prospective home health aides are empowered in their quest to be trained and certified correctly!
Employer-provided home health aide course for free when bringing a client to the company
Another way that caregivers can get their home health aide training covered in full is when they bring a client to the home care agency. Most commonly, in these cases they are family members that care for loved ones. They get paid under the Pennsylvania Medicaid waiver to provide the caregiving for their family or loved one in need. They may also be compensated caregivers under certain Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. This article outlines how one can get paid to care for loved ones in Pennsylvania.
This is a great obligation as it is a no cost way to get the training to be a certified home health aide. Similar to the above, make sure you ask the right questions to ensure that the HHA program meets the requirements of the home health aide certification to be valid.
Home Health Aide Training with CareBridge Academy
CareBridge Academy can help you get your certification to be an HHA in just two weeks and at a low cost. With online course offerings and an all-inclusive low cost of $595, you can be on a path in the medical field with low out of pocket costs and earning a salary in a matter of days.
Are you interested in learning about the employers that offer HHA certification as well? We can gladly assist you with that information too, as we have several home healthcare agencies that we work with that offer this as an option. Please reach out to us today and we can share training resources for this or any other questions you may have. Call or email us now!