Home Health Aide Requirements in Alaska
Alaska has a number of regulations in place for home health aides. The number of training and clinical hours required to work at a Medicare-certified home health agency is set at the federal level (unless an individual state chooses to set the standard higher). Alaska has set its standard at the minimum national level: 75 training hours, 16 clinical hours. It does, however, mandate a certification that is not universally required.
Aides who work for home health agencies are certified as nurse aides. They must meet additional standards described in state code. Home health agencies are responsible for ensuring that their aides have the skills to perform competently.
Select an Alaska Home Health Aide Topic:
- Achieving Nurse Aide Certification
- Employer Orientation and Supervision
- Alaska Home Health Agencies
- Career Options
- Home Health Aide Salary in Alaska and Career Outlook
- Additional Information and Contacts
Achieving Nurse Aide Certification in Alaska
Nurse aide certification is granted by the Alaska Board of Nursing. Certificate holders must have acceptable backgrounds. An individual will need to complete a nurse aide program unless he or she has prior healthcare training of a type referenced in state code. A person may be exempted from the requirement to enroll in a nurse aide program on the basis of recent military training or partial completion of a nursing program. Internationally educated nurses may also qualify.
The Board of Nursing has provided a list of approved nurse aide programs (https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/NurseAideRegistry.aspx).
The competency examination is the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) testing program carried out through Pearson VUE. Candidate handbooks are found on the Pearson VUE website (http://www.pearsonvue.com/ak/nurseaides). Alaska candidates can call (800) 475-8292 for additional information.
The prospective aide will need to pass a written or oral examination and a skills evaluation. There are 22 skills that may be assessed as part of a skills evaluation. However, the candidate will attempt only five during a given administration. The handbook includes a list of expected steps.
Certificate holders must meet continuing competence requirements in order to renew.
Employer Orientation and Supervision
An aide who is employed by a home health agency must have orientation within two weeks. Orientation will cover, at minimum, the following:
- Laws, policies, and procedures
- Functions of other personnel
- Service coordination
- Confidentiality and ethics
The employer must document that the individual is competent to carry out a range of personal care and basic healthcare duties, including the following: communications, reporting, maintenance of the environment, infection control, nutrition and fluids, vital signs, body functions and changes, respect and recognition of needs, hygiene, ambulation and transfer, positioning and range of motion, and handling of emergencies. Hygiene and grooming is to include bathing, shampooing, provision of oral care, provision of nail and skin care, and assistance with toileting. Nutrition may include food preparation as well as basic steps undertaken to ensure adequate intake of fluids and nutrition.
Services are provided as delineated by the patient’s plan of care. An aide who is employed by a home health agency must provide care under the supervision of an RN or qualifying therapist. Supervision will include periodic supervisory visits. Direct observation will take place, at minimum, every three months. (A supervising professional will make visits to the home on a more frequent basis to determine that appropriate care is being delivered.)
The employed home health aide will receive at least 12 hours of in-service a year. State code stipulates that training be determined by patient needs and supervisory visits.
Qualifications must be maintained. The home health aide will receive at least 12 hours of in-service a year.
Alaska Home Health Agencies
Currently there are 13 licensed and certified home health agencies in Alaska (http://dhss.alaska.gov/dhcs/Pages/hflc/home_health.aspx). DHHS carries out surveys approximately every three years.
Medicare issues ratings for Medicare-certified home health agencies (https://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare). High ratings are not to be construed as an actual endorsement.
Some youth and young adults receive nurse aide or personal care aide training through the Alaska Job Corps (http://alaska.jobcorps.gov/vocations.aspx). They may have the opportunity to continue on for advanced career training at the college level.
Individuals with home health training may find employment in various other settings, for example, assisted living facilities.
Home health assisting can be valuable work experience, though positions that are more autonomous and lucrative generally require higher education. Technical healthcare or social services experience can sometimes be credited toward meeting qualifications to be considered for care-related administrative positions, though employers may also seek higher education.
Home Health Aide Salary in Alaska and Career Outlook
The average hourly wage for an Alaska home health aide is $16.00, based on data from 2016. This rate leads the nation, though it is just pennies above the runner up, North Dakota. The mean wage is $15.16 in Anchorage and $14.45 in the nonmetropolitan areas in the Southeastern region of the state. Home health aides in the very rural area comprising the balance of Alaska enjoy an average hourly wage of $18.24; this is the highest paying of any nonmetropolitan area in the nation.
Home health aide employment in Alaska has been projected to grow 13% between 2014 and 2024 (https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/StateAndLocal/ProjectedEmployment.aspx?soccode=%20311011&location=US).
Regulations are described in 7 AAC 12.519: Home Health Aide Services (http://www.touchngo.com/lglcntr/akstats/aac/title07/chapter012/section519.htm).
Additional information is available from the Department of Health and Social Services (http://dhss.alaska.gov/dhcs/Pages/hflc/home_health.aspx). Health Facilities Certification and Licensing can be reached at (907) 334-2483 or (after hours) at 1-888-387-9387.
The Nurse Aide Registry can be reached by telephone at (907) 269-8169.