Health care aides are not required to complete a high school diploma. They receive on-the-job training from registered nurses, supervisors or experienced aides. Although a high school diploma is not required, health care aides must be able to communicate clearly, read, write and manage basic household responsibilities.
Health care aides receive on-the-job training that teaches them to provide basic levels of patient support, conduct housekeeping chores, assist with bathing and grooming and manage other general household responsibilities. They receive special training on meal preparation for patients on special diets, and they learn basic safety procedures. They are usually required to pass a competency exam once the training period ends.
Health care aides are not required to have licensure, but it can make them more marketable. Agencies that receive Medicare and Medicaid financial funding require a minimum level of training. These agencies require health care aides to complete a minimum of 75 hours and pass a competency exam or state certification program. Aides earn certification by successfully completing a competency exam with or without training. However, they must complete at least 16 hours of supervised training before they have direct contact with patients. The federal government established this minimum requirement for licensure, but some states require higher levels of training for certification.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) is an organization within the health care industry that offers certification courses for health care aides. This voluntary certification requires the successful completion of 75 hours of training with oversight and observation by a registered nurse. Passing a written competency exam completes the process for certification.
Most agencies and institutions provide training on interpersonal skills that enables health care aides to communicate and interact well with patients. Training classes teach individuals to communicate clearly and honestly, maintain emotional stability and present a positive attitude to patients. Interpersonal training also teaches health care aides to react professionally in an emergency or urgent situation without causing unnecessary alarm to the patients or their family members.
Health care aides are also referred to as home health aides, and they assist disabled, ill and elderly individuals in their homes or in residential facilities. They perform basic housekeeping duties, monitor general health status, assist with bathing and grooming, transport individuals to doctor's appointments and handle related responsibilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that training varies by state, and some states have higher minimum training requirements than others.